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Full text of "Christmas Eve : a dialogue on the celebration of Christmas."

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CHEISTMAS EVE 



_ PRtXTED BY MORRISON AND GIBE, 
FOR 

T. & T. CLARK, EDINBURGH. 

LONDON, HAMILTON, ADAMS, AND 00, 

DUBLIN, ,...,.. GEOROE HERBERT. 

NEW YORK, . , . . . SCRIBNER AND WELFORD, 



CHRISTMAS EVE: 

A DIALOGUE ON THE CELEBRATION OF 
CHRISTMAS, 



BY J 

SCHLEIEKMACHER. 



3from the German 



W. HASTIE, B.D. 



EDINBURaH: 
T. & T. CLARK, 38 CEORGE STREET 

MDCCCXC. 



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE. 



The Nativity of Christ, as the visible incarnation of the 
Eedeemer, has always been recognised as the distinctive 
starting-point of the Christian life in time. Around it 
as a living centre in the stream of history, all Christian 
experience has turned ; and it has thus been accepted in 
Christendom as dividing the whole life of mankind into 
its two great periods of the old and the new, the natural 
and the spiritual, the physical and the regenerated. 
When the Church was beginning to constitute itself 
and to realize the full significance of its mission in the 
world, it could not but attain to a more definite con- 
sciousness of its relations to the natural changes and 
spiritual transitions of the life which it embodied and 
diffused. The historical development of this consciousness 
was mainly determined by reference to the cardinal mani- 
festations of the Divine life in its Founder, and the neces- 
sity of an orderly spiritualization of the living humanity 
it absorbed and unfolded. It was thus that the great 
Festivals of the Christian Church took their rise ; and 



VI TKANSLATOR S PREFACE. 

they became spontaneously authenticated by the respon- 
sive recognition of the whole Christian community. 

It was therefore most natural that the commemoration 
of the Nativity should take the form it did in the 
Christian festival of Christmas, and that it should at 
once assume a primary place both in the ritualistic 
celebrations of the Church and in the purified affections 
of the people. Chrysostom already extolled it as ' the 
most venerable festival of all,' and, by a characteristic 
metaphor, as ' the metroimlis of all the Festivals.' In 
the Western Church it was definitely fixed during the 
fourth century as a regulating point in the golden circle 
of the Christian year. The religious mood which it 
consecrated was one of universal joy, and the relations it 
represented were of the deepest and most suggestive 
kind. Having been fixed at the winter solstice, the 
solar turning-point of the natural year, — 'the Birthday 
of the unconquered Sun,' — it became vividly symbolical 
of the mystery of the life revolving in nature, and readily 
receptive of the expressions of the deepest aspiration of 
the natural Eeligions. Amid the shortest and darkest 
days when ' Nature had doff d her gaudy trim,' it typified 
the arrest of decay and mortality, and the return of 
brightness and warmth to renew the whole round of ani- 
mated existence ; and so it superseded the old Saturnalia 
of the heathen world, and the Brumalian festival of the 



translatok's preface. vii 

Sun. As a Christian observance it was specially based 
upon the tenderest and loveliest page in the Gospel 
History, and on what is most touching and fascinating 
in human life. Its essential purity, its higher symbolism, 
and its universal significance, invested it with a charm, a 
freedom, and a simplicity all its own. It accordingly 
gave full scope for all that is brightest and most joyous 
in religious celebration : and it increasingly gathered 
around it the fairest and gayest forms of art. 

The Festival of Christmas has thus come to be cele- 
brated in every clime of the globe, and by all the means 
of artistic representation and adornment, through the 
course of the Christian ages. The grandest cathedrals 
of Christendom have vied with each other in the 
splendour and elaboration of its celebration. The great 
host of Christian preachers from Chrysostom in the East 
and Leo the Great in the West, down to the thousands 
and thousands who proclaim its message to-day, have 
poured forth their highest eloquence on this most attrac- 
tive theme. The tenderest hymn-writers of the mediaeval 
and modern Church, have embodied its feeling of exulta- 
tion and adoration in undying strains ; and the most 
melodious poets of the reflective Protestant world, have 
echoed them in mellifluous verse. Music has added the 
charm of her delicate resources in accompanying carol 
and chime, and all the varied outflow of quaint and 



VUl TRANSLATOK S PREFACE. 

picturesque harmony in tone. The greatest Christian 
artists have exhausted their skill in visible representa- 
tions of the Divine Child in the manger, with the 
worshipping shepherds, and the adoring ' star-led wizards,' 
and all the simple surroundings of the scene, watched 
over by ' the spangled host of bright harnessed angels,' 
and lit up by the irradiation of a new heavenly glory. 
Even the lower forms of art have asserted the claim to 
elevate their broad and boisterous hilarity, by making it 
subservient to the universal joy ; and they have been 
borne with, from the very gentleness of their intent, to 
the utmost verge of Unreason and Misrule. 

But it has been above all by the domestic hearth 
that the dear delightful festival has showed its subtlest 
power; and its crowning glory was reached not so truly 
in high altar service, or in gay representation, as in its 
consecration of the sweet sanctities of home. Here it 
mastered and formed the rude life of new races to gentler 
ways. And from the royal palace and the spacious 
baronial hall, with the Yule log ablaze on the hearth, 
and all the robust and tumultuous festivities of the time, 
crowned by the natural evergreen of the holly and ivy 
and mystic mistletoe, down to the squalor and bareness 
of the rustic hovel, and the dim and cold cell in the 
forest, it shed its humanizing and unifying influence with 
deepening feeling once a year. It became above all 



translator's preface. ix 

things the children's festival, and it gave a new and 
diviner significance to the feeble pulsations of infant life. 
It annually dissolved the bonds of care, and lightened the 
burden of toil. It softened the hardest hearts, and shed 
an unwonted blessing on the poor. It renewed broken 
friendships, and extinguished burning animosities. It 
lifted woman to her supreme place in the family circle 
in the reflection of the glory of the Virgin Mother ; and it 
knit age again to youth with the sense of a common un- 
dying life. And so the preacher, the poet, the artist, the 
philanthropist, the romancist, the antiquarian, the novel 
writer of the hour, and the sweet genius of the domestic 
hearth, have all contributed of their best to beautify, 
perpetuate, and glorify the Festival of Christmas. 

But the everlasting theme of the spiritual renovation 
of the life of humanity, as represented and symbolized 
by the Festival of the Nativity, was never touched with 
a finer or defter hand than by Schleiermacher, the greatest 
theologian of the nineteenth century, who found in 
brooding over its spiritual suggestions the central thought 
which was to determine the power of his own system, 
and to give new life and purpose to a higher reflection 
in Christendom. His 'Dialogue on the celebration of 
Christmas ' is one of the most characteristic products of 
his genius, and it has an enduring value, not only from 
its relation to the great theologian himself, but from its 



X translator's preface. 

bearing upon the living currents of Christian thought. 
Apart from his earliest sermons, it was the first literary 
production which he published with his name ; and it is 
significant that it gave the first expression to the central 
idea of his new Christian faith. In his anonymous ' Dis- 
courses on Eeligion,' which appeared in 1799, he had 
opened again the overgrown and choked-up fountain of 
the original religious feeling in humanity ; and with bene- 
ficent originality he had made its sweet and fertilizing 
water flow into the parched domain of theology. In his 
'Monologues/ published in 1800, as a greeting and gift 
•to the new century, he realized the strength and signifi- 
cance of human individuality, and spoke forth in ardent 
prophetic glow the watchword of the new moral freedom. 
But it was in this Christmas Dialogue that he first 
attained to clear insight into the vitality and power of 
the Christian regeneration, and its supreme significance 
for the whole life of mankind. He had passed through 
all the terrible struggle of the perplexed soul when the 
traditional creed upon which it has been resting, gives 
way ; and he, too, had wrestled in his Gethsemane sweat 
of spiritual agony, amid the darkness and loneliness of 
unspeakable doubt and despair. Then it was, when 
shaken from his self-confidence and pride by a humbling 
sense of common human frailty and error, that the bright 
star of the East rose clear upon his view, and led him 



TRANSLATOR S PREFACE. XI 

with all his weight of philosophic learning and wisdom, 
like the sages of old, to the manger at Bethlehem. And 
here in the vision of the Virgin Mother and the Infant 
Christ he found the end of all his search and longing, 
a new and higher view of the Divine idea there finally 
exhibited to the world, and a sure sense of spiritual 
peace and certainty which was never to leave him again. 
It is not necessary to pause over the literary or 
artistic merit of this ' precious jewel ' of our modern 
theological literature, as it has been called. Much has 
been written by way of criticism and adulation upon 
it ; and it has received the sincerest flattery in various 
attempts to imitate it and to supersede it. It may 
suffice in this formal relation to refer to the exposition 
and summary reproduced in the Appendix to the transla- 
tion, giving the view of one of the most critical and 
cultured recent representatives of the advanced wing of 
Schleiermacher's School, and it may be taken either as an 
introduction to the perusal of this little work of the master, 
or as a recapitulation of it, according to the taste or 
need of the reader.^ Schleiermacher's Dialogue has been 
aptly called a Christian ' Symposion ' in the manner of 
the Platonic DialoQ;ues, and the student of Plato will 

^ The reader may also be referred to Dr. Liclitenberger's excellent 
summary of the Dialogue, as well as to his admirable exposition of the 
whole Theology of Schleiermacher, in his History of Getman Theology 
in me Nineteenth Century (T. & T. Clark, 1889). 



Xll TKANSLATOR S PREFACE. 

readily appreciate the reference. Brief and popular 
though it be, it is not to be taken as a mere pastime 
for an unoccupied hour, nor will it give up its essen- 
tial meaning to the frivolous soul. Its relevancy and 
subtlety, even through a certain bewildering variety and 
playfulness, cannot escape the most cursory reader ; nor 
will it be denied its right to a special place high over all 
the accumulating masses of trivial and irrelevant Christmas 
literature. Its light and airy grace, its natural simplicity 
and refinement, its sympathetic and tender individuality, 
its catholic comprehensiveness and breadth, its elevating 
points of view, and its deep spiritual insight, cannot 
fail to find and satisfy the earnest hearts that are at once 
lightened and brightened by the proper mood of the 
Christmas-tide. A more genuine Christmas book was 
never written; for no Christmas book has ever dealt 
more directly, or more thoughtfully, with the essential 
theme of the Festival. And its sweet blending of high 
thought and social feeling, of science and religion, philo- 
sophy and poetry, insight and joy, make it not unworthy 
of its subject or of the genius of its author. 

A genuine Christmas book unquestionably it is ; but it 
is more, for it is an interesting and enduring contribution 
to Christian theology. The student of Christian life and 
thought will find in it original points of view which 
have not yet been exhausted, and which were perhaps 



TRANSLATORS PREFACE. XIU 

never more sifrnificant than now. Without enterinji 
upon these in detail, or blunting the edge of anticipation, 
it may be premised that the various standpoints of 
the living Schools of Theology will here be found 
strikingly exhibited in distinctive contrast, and yet in 
sympathetic union. The standpoints of our contem- 
porary critical rationalism, of the new spiritual theology 
(whicli is indeed only the highest form of natural 
theology), of lofty speculative thinking, and of quiet 
mystic feeling, are here presented in their varied aspects, 
and in their relative significance for the living tasks of 
Christian theology. They are brought with deep thought- 
fulness into relation with the subject of the Christmas 
Festival, which is shown to involve the cardinal point in 
the interest of modern theology. And in dealing with this 
delicate and difficult theme, the genius of the profound 
theologian leads to the most suggestive and pregnant 
results. In his human and ideal apprehension, the unreal 
asceticism of the East and the crass naturalism of the 
West, are spiritually overcome ; and the true and eternal 
idea of the Christian redemption is significantly, if not 
yet completely, set forth in the light of the modern time. 
It is this which the Church above all things needs at 
the present hour. Her chief necessity is to find a way 
out of the lower entanglements and conflicts of carnal 
and worldly relationships into the higher catholicity and 



XIV TRANSLATOR S PREFACE. 

freedom of the Ideal, while losing no hold upon reality, 
but rather securing it by a stronger and firmer grasp. 
Of all the sons of men who have given themselves to 
solving this task during the past hundred years, no one 
has succeeded so largely, through the leading of the 
spirit and the ideas delineated here, as Schleiermacher ; 
and the leaders of our own theology have only become 
leaders in his train. 

It is also this illumination and guidance which the 
world mainly wants, and is craving for at the present 
hour. Amid the deepening darkness of the natural life 
and the intensified struggle for existence, the overcast 
horizon, and the new social problems and difficulties of 
the day, it is religion that must come once more to 
deliver and save the worn heart of humanity. And here, 
if anywhere, is to be found again the gleaming of the 
ancient joy, and a new herald voice proclaiming, in view 
of all the sadness and sorrow of the time : ' Glory to God 
in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.' 

And in this feeling we welcome again the Christmas- 
tide, and keep the old celebration, not as ' an ancient 
form, through which the spirit breathes no more,' but 
with the very freshness and sincerity of the prime. 
The celebration has now become coextensive with 
Christendom, and all misunderstanding is at an end. 
For the great theologian has shown us in tlie Christ as 



translator's preface. XV 

the Divine ideal of humanity, that the glory of the Nativity 
is essentially involved in all human birth, and is con- 
sciously diffused by the higher Birth over all ; and that 
all human life has thus become sacred and divine. Let 
his cheerful yet solemn voice, then, be heard, along with 
all besides, bidding us celebrate the mystery of this 
higher life joyfully and freely, yet without the profaning 
presence of an unhallowed thought, and recognise it in 
its harmony with all the wonders of love and science. 
And so let ' the merry, merry bells of Yule ' chime once 
more as they ring in ' the Christ that is to be/ in response 
to the heavenly chorus over ' the good tidings of great joy,' 
the birth of ' a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.' Amid 
all suffering and wrong, all burdens of toil and care, the 
shortening day of life and the dark and fateful ministra- 
tions of death, let the old faith live anew and rejoice in 
the ideal vision of the Kedeemer. The eternal Love once 
more hallows and gladdens the passing night by its own 
supreme gift; and the one stedfast star amid the universal 
change and whirl of things, points brightly beyond it to 
the happier morn. 

Rise, happy morn, rise, holy morn, 

Draw forth the cheerful day from night : 
Father, touch the East, and light 

The light that shone when Hope was born. 

^y. H. 

Edinburgh, December 1889. 



CHRISTMAS EVE. 



The pleasant drawing-room was gaily decorated ; all the 
windows of the house had contributed their flowers to it, 
but the curtains were not let down, that the gleaming 
in of the snow might recall the season of the year. 
Engravings and pictures relating to the sacred festival 
adorned the walls ; and a pair of beautiful prints of this 
kind formed the present of the lady of the house to her 
husband. A considerable number of lamps, drawn high 
up and i-adiating on all sides, shed a festive light around, 
which yet seemed to play and sport with curiosity ; for it 
showed known things distinctly enough, but what was 
strange and new could only be distinctly recognised and 
certainly appreciated after a time and by exact observa- 
tion. Things had thus been arranged by the cheerful 
and thoughtful Ernestine in order that the impatience 
thus excited, half in jest and half in earnest, might be 
only gradually satisfied, and that the various little gifts 
might remain surrounded for a while in a glimmering and 
enlarging light. 

Those who formed the intimate circle of friends here 
Gathered tooether had, in fact, entrusted her with this 
work in order that she might bring together the gifts 
which they were bestowing upon each other into groups ; 

A 



2 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

and tlius what would have appeared insignificant wlien 
separated, was capable of being arranged into a stately 
whole. And this is what she had now done. And just 
as in a winter garden, between the evergreen shrubs, the 
little blossoms of the galanthus and of the violet must 
be sought for under the snow or the protecting covering 
of the moss, so every one had their own portion hedged 
in by ivy, myrtles, and amaranths. The most delicate 
things lay concealed below white napkins or parti-coloured 
coverings, whereas the larger presents were scattered 
round about, or had to be searched for below the tables. 
The initials of their names were worked in little edible 
inscriptions upon the covers ; and each one had then to 
try to find out the giver of the several gifts. 

The company w^aited in the adjoining room, and their 
impatience gave a slight sting to the jesting that was 
meanwhile carried on. Under the pretence of guessing 
or betraying what would be found, gifts were fancifully 
suggested, the references of which to little foibles and 
habits, to merry incidents and ludicrous misunderstand- 
ings or accidental embarrassments, were not to be 
mistaken ; and whenever a little stroke of this kind of 
humour was played off on any one, he did not fail to 
return it on all sides. 

Only little Sophie moved about with great strides 
absorbed in herself; and her continual restlessness was 
almost as much in the way of the other members of the 
company, while they moved about and talked at will with 
each other, as they were to her. At last Antony, with 
feigned vexation, asked her whether she would not now 
willingly give all her presents for a magic mirror which 
would enable her to have a look at what was hidden by 
the closed doors. 



A DIALOGUE. 3 

' At least/ said she, ' I would rather so than you ; for 
you have certainly more calculation about you than 
etiriosity ; and you believe, besides, that the rays of your 
Vwonderful wisdom are not to be shut out by any walls.' 
Then she sat down in the darkest corner, and rocked her 
little head in her upturned hands. 

It was not long till Ernestine opened the door, against 
which she remained standing. But the joyful company, 
instead of hurrying eagerly, as was to be expected, to the 
ranged tables, stopped short suddenly when halfway into 
the room, w^here the whole scene could be taken in, and all 
of them turned involuntarily their look upon her. The 
arrangement of the whole was so beautiful, and it was 
such a perfect expression of her tliought, that uncon- 
sciously and involuntarily their feelings and their glances 
were drawn to her. She stood half in darkness, thinking 
to enjoy unnoticed the loved forms before her and their 
light joyfulness ; but she it w^as in whom at first they 
all found their delight. As if they had already enjoyed 
everything else there, and as if she had been the giver of 
it all, they gathered around her. The child clasped her 
knee and gazed at her with large eyes without smiling, 
yet with infinite lovingness. Her lady friends embraced 
her, and Edward kissed her beautiful downcast cheek ; and, 
as was becoming in each case, they all showed her the 
heartiest love and devotedness. She herself had to give 
the sign for them to take possession of their gifts. 

' If I have arranged things to your satisfaction, my 
dear friends,' she said, ' see that you don't forget the 
picture for the frame ; and consider that I have only 
tried to do honour to the festival day and your gladsome 
love, the tokens of which you entrusted to me. Come 
then, and let each of you see what has been bestowed upon 



4 CHKISTMAS EVE. 

you ; and those who cannot guess rightly, let them bear 
patiently to be laughed at.' 

Of this, indeed, there was no lack. The ladies, both 
old and young, called out the name of the giver of every 
gift with great confidence, so that no one could deny it; 
but the men committed many mistakes ; and nothing was 
more amusing, and also more annoying, than when they 
ventured upon a witty idea in conjecture, and when it 
was repudiated and returned under protest as bad change. 
' It must just be borne,' said Leonard, * although it always 
naturally annoys us that the ladies excel us so much in 
acuteness in these agreeable little things ; for as their 
gifts betray by their significance the finest attention, far 
more than is the case with ours, and as we enjoy this 
beautiful fruit of their talent, we must also accommodate 
ourselves to this other effect of it, although it puts us 
somewhat in the shade.' 

' You are too complimentary,' replied Frederica ; ' it is 
not so much our talent merely ; but, if it may be said, 
tliere is a certain want of dexterity in you men that 
comes not a little to our aid. You like very much the 
straight ways, as beseems the strong ; and your move- 
ments, although you do not intend to express anything 
thereby, are nevertheless as treacherously intelligible as 
are the gestures of a player at chess who cannot cease 
touching and trying the doubtful pieces of his opponent, 
and lifting his own six times over with undecided pur- 
pose before he will move.' 

'Yes, yes,' interposed Ernest, openly smiling but 
feigning a sigh, ' it still continues true, as old Solomon 
says, that God has made man upright, but women have 
found out many inventions.' 

'Then you may have at least the consolation,' said 



A DIALOGUE. 5 

Caroline, ' that you have not spoiled us by your modern 
politeness. Perhaps it may be that both qualities are 
as eternal as they are necessary ; and if your honest 
simplicity is perhaps the condition of our cunning, then 
comfort yourselves with tlie fact that on another side our 
limitedness perhaps bears the same relation to your 
greater talents.' 

Meanwhile the presents were being inspected more 
closely, and at tlie same time the distinctively female 
productions in the way of knitting and fine sewing 
were examined with artistic judgment and praised by all. 
Sophie had at first thrown but a cursory glance over her 
own treasures, and had forthwith moved about here and 
there curiously inspecting and eagerly praising every- 
thing, and above all begging for the nice little fragments 
of the broken initials of their names. For of sweetmeats 
of all kinds she was extremely fond, and liked to have 
great stores of them, especially when she could gather 
them together in this way. It was only after she had 
increased her possessions by such a snpply that she began 
to examine her presents more closely, and now she went 
about again showing off and exulting in every separate 
article, exhibiting every one of them so far as it was 
possible, in order thereby to show most certainly the 
excellence of the gifts. 

' But you don't seem to heed the best of them all,' 
said her mother, calling her attention to it. 

' Oh yes, dear mother,' said the child, ' but I have not 
yet had the heart to touch it ; for if it is a book it would 
be of no use for me to look into it here. I must first 
shut myself up in my little room that I may enjoy it 
there. But if any one — for I am certain that it was not 
you — has played a serious joke upon me by giving me 



6 CIIKISTMAS EVK. 

patterns and directions for all lands of knitting and 
sewing and other splendid things, then I promise as 
certainly as I can that I will use it right diligently in 
the new year, but just now I don't know what to do 
with it.' 

* Badly guessed,' said her father, ' it is not that ; for 
you have not yet deserved to possess such a thing. But 
neither is it a book with which you would have to 
betake yourself to your room in order to enjoy it accord- 
ing to its purpose.' 

Thereupon she drew it forth with the greatest curiosity 
at the risk of scattering a large portion of her treasures, 
and forthwith she exclaimed with a cry, * Oh, music ! ' and 
turning over the leaves she went on, * Oh, grand music ! 
Oh for a whole life of Christmases ! You shall sing with 
me the most splendid things.' Then she read the names 
of the compositions, which were mostly religious, and had 
all reference to the dear festival, the whole of them being 
excellent pieces, and some of them old and rare. Then 
she ran straight to her father to cover him with kisses in 
a passionate burst of gratitude. 

Along witli the aversion already mentioned to female 
work, the child had shown a decided talent for music, 
but a talent as limited in its range as great in its kind. 
Her faculty, indeed, is not at all limited, as she has a 
liearty enjoyment of all that is beautiful in every depart- 
ment of this art. For herself, however, she does not 
readily care to practise anything but what is set in tlie 
grand church style. It is rarely to be taken as the sign 
of a purely joyful mood when she trills half aloud a 
light merry air ; but when she goes to the piano and gives 
her voice full play, and strikes into a deep tone, she always 
keeps by that grand kind alone. And she knows, too, 



A DIALOGUE. 7 

how to do justice to every note. Each tone breaks forth 
with a love that hardly tears itself away from the rest ; 
but then it stands out by itself in measured power till 
it, too, again gives place to the next following one as with 
a pious kiss. Even when she sings alone for exercise, her 
singing indicates as much respect for the other voices as 
if they too were likewise really heard ; and however deeply 
she is often moved, yet no sort of excess ever destroys 
the harmony of her tones. One can hardly indicate it 
otherwise, even apart from reference to its objects, than 
by saying that she sings with devoutness, and awakens 
and cherishes every tone with a sort of meek love. Now, 
as Christmas is very specially the children's festival, and 
as she throws herself wholly into it, no present could 
appear ta her more delightful than just such a one as 
this. i/She sat for a while absorbed in looking at the 
notes, fingered the keys upon the book, and sang into 
herself without sound, but with visible movement of the 
muscles, and with animated gestures. Then she sprang 
up suddenly, but turned half round and said, 'Xow 
then, leave all your seeing and discussing, and come up- 
stairs to me as my guests. I have already lighted every- 
thing ; tea will also soon be ready, and now is the most 
convenient time. As you know and have seen, I was 
not allowed to make you any presents, but I have not 
been forbidden to invite you to a performance.' 

In fact, the condition had been laid down to her that 
she would be received among the number of those who 
gave presents as soon as she could produce a faultless and 
graceful work as a first gift. She had not yet been able 
to accomplish this, but she was desirous in some way to 
make amends for it. Xow, she happened to possess one 
of those little artificial toys on which, according to 



8 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

its original design, the history of the day could be repre- 
sented by small movable card figures amid suitable sur- 
roundings. But this arrangement is usually as good as 
suppressed by a multitude of unsuitable and even taste- 
less and burlesque additions, which are introduced to give 
the simple mechanism as much variety and grotesqueness 
in its movements as possible. She had tidied up this 
structure, put it anew into order, with improvements here 
and there, and it was now set up to as much advantage 
as possible in her room and lighted. Upon a somewhat 
large table there was to be seen, in simple guise and free 
confusion, and interrupted by few episodes, representa- 
tions of many important facts in the external history of 
Christianity. Mixed up with one another might be dis- 
cerned the baptism of Christ, Golgotha, and the hill of 
the Ascension, the outpouring of the Spirit, the destruc- 
tion of the Temple, and Christians engaged in battle with 
the Saracens for the Holy Sepulchre ; there was the 
Pope marching in a solemn procession to St. Peter's, the 
martyrdom of Huss, and the burning of the Papal Bull 
by Luther, the baptism of the Saxons, the missionaries in 
Greenland and among the negroes, a Moravian church- 
yard, and the Halle Orphanage, which the constructor, as 
it appeared, had wished specially to bring into promi- 
nence as the latest great work of religious zeal and 
enthusiasm. The little artist had tried to employ lire 
and water everywhere with particular care, and had made 
an excellent use of the conflicting elements. Streams 
actually flowed, and fire burned ; and she managed to 
maintain and to protect the light flame with great dex- 
terity. Among all these prominently appearing objects, 
the Birth itself was long sought for in vain, for she had 
managed wisely to conceal the star. It was necessary to 



A DIALOGUE. 9 

follow the angels and the shepherds who were gathered 
around a fire ; then a door opened in the wall of the 
structure, — the house being only presented as a decora- 
tion, — and there in a room, which was properly placed 
outside, was to be seen the Holy Family. All was dark 
in the poor hovel ; only a strong hidden light irradiated 
the head of the Child, and formed a reflection upon the 
bended face of the mother. In contrast to the wild 
flames on the outside, this mild splendour appeared in 
comparison really as heavenly light to earthly light. 
Sophie herself joined in praising this with visible satis- 
faction as her hidiest work of art. She seemed to her- 

o 

self in makinor it like a second Correfrfrio, and made a 
great mystery of the arrangement. Only she said that ' 
as yet she had planned in vain how to bring in a 
rainbow too ; because, she thought, that Christ was the -^j 
true surety that life and joy will nevermore perish in 
the world. ^ 

She knelt down for some moments before her work, 
her little head reaching only up to the table, and she 
gazed intently into the little room. Suddenly she per- 
ceived that her mother was standing just behind her, and 
she turned round without altering her position, and said 
with deep feeling, ' Oh mother, you might just as w^ell be 
the happy mother of the divine babe ! Are you indeed 
not sorry that you are not ? And is not this the reason 
why mothers prefer the boys ? But think only of the 
holy women who followed Jesus, and of all that you have 
told me about them. Certainly I will be such a one, as 
you now are one.' The mother, ^^•ith deep emotion, 
raised her and kissed her. 

The rest of them meanwhile severally examined the 
little details of her work. Antony stood looking on 



10 CHlflSTMAS EVE. 

with particular eiirnestness. He had his younger brother 
beside him, and began to point out and explain all he 
knew with the fluent and gushing vanity of a cicerone. 
The boy appeared very attentive, yet understood nothing 
at all, but always wished at intervals to catch the water 
and the flames in order to convince himself that they 
were real, and not an illusion. 

While most of them were still occupied in this way, 
Sophie plied her father softly with a request that he 
would come with Frederica and Caroline into the other 
room, where the latter sat down at the piano, and they 
sang together the hymn, ' Let us love Him,' and the 
chorale, ' Welcome to this Vale of Sorrow,' as well as 
some other pieces from Keichardt's Cantilena, in which 
the joy and the feeling of being saved and humble devo- 
tion are so beautifully expressed. They soon had the 
whole company as devout listeners ; and when they had 
finished, as always happens, the religious music produced 
at first a quiet satisfaction and retirement of soul. There 
followed a few silent moments, in which, however, they 
all knew that the heart of each of them was lovingly 
directed towards the others, and towards something still 
higher. 

The call to tea soon gathered them again in the 
drawing-room. Sophie alone remained for a considerable 
time in diligent exercise at the piano, and only came in 
haste, and without much interest, among them to quench 
her thirst. 

The members of the company went up and down, 
and busied themselves again with the presents. It was 
only now, after something else had occurred, that they 
appeared to have come rightly into possession of their 
new property, and that the things could therefore now be 



A DIALOGUE. 11 

regarded by tlie donors of them as not their own, and 
could be openly praised. Much had been previously 
overlooked by several of them ; and in some things certain 
special excellences were only now discovered. 

' This time,' said Ernest, ' we have indeed a specially 
favourable year for rejoicing in our gifts ; some important 
changes are at hand. The pretty little clothes witli 
which Agnes has been so richly presented, the nice little 
jewels for our future relation, my good Frederica, the 
travelling wraps for Leonard, even the school-books for 
your Antony, dear Agnes, all these point to progress ; 
and such happy events bring home to us in a vivid ^ 
manner at present the joys of the future. And if the' -^'^ 
festival itself is the proclamation of a new life for the 
world, it will naturally be most impressive and gladden- 
ing to us when something new of importance is occurring 
in our own life. I embrace you anew^, my beloved one, 
as a gift of this day. As if you were just now given to 
me along with the Eedeemer, a wonderful festal feeling 
of high joy seizes upon me. Yes, it even pains me that 
all who are here are not like us kneeling devoutly before ^^ 
a new stage of life ; that to you, dear friends, there is 
nothing great approaching wdiich is immediately associated 
with the greatest of all objects. And I fear that our 
gifts must appear but meaningless to you compared with 
yours to us. Your state of mind may be indeed cheerful 
and happy, but still it is less moved and exalted, indeed 
I might even say, it must be indifferent in comparison 
with ours.' 

' Certainly you are very kind,' replied Edward, 'to J ''y 
give a glance over with such sympathy at us from out 
of your enthusiasm ; but surely this very enthusiasm 
removes us much too far away from you. Only con- 



12 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

sider that our calm happiness is just the same as that 
■which you are approaching, and that every genuine 
enthusiasm, including that of love, never grows old, but 
is always capable of being renewed. Or is it possible 
that you regard Ernestine's feeling at the expression of 
childish devotion and deep piety in our Sophie as 
indifference ; or can you think of all this as being 
without the liveliest activity of the fancy, yet as having 
the present, the past, and the future entwined in it ? 
Only see how deeply she is moved, as if she were bathing 
in a sea of the purest happiness.' 

* Yes, I readily confess it,' said Ernestine. ' She has 
transported me with joy just now by her few words. 
But I do her wrong; these words by themselves may 
rather have appeared as affectation to one who does not 
know her. It was the whole view of the child taken 
all together that moved me. The angelic purity of her 
heart seemed to open up so gloriously ; and if you 
understand what I n:iean, as I cannot otherwise express 
it, in her great simplicity and unconsciousness there was 
such deep underlying intelligence of feeling, that I was 
overwhelmed by a presentiment of the fulness of the 
beauty and amiability which must necessarily grow 
forth out of it. Truly I feel that in one respect she 
did not sny too much when she said that I might well 
be also the mother of the adorable child, because I can 
with true meekness reverence in my daughter, as Mary 
in her Son, the pure revelation of the divine, without the 
right relation of mother and child becoming thereby in 
the least disturbed.' 

*We are all quite agreed on this point,' said Agnes, 
'that the so-called fondling and spoiling which springs, 
not from a love to the children, but only to oneself, in 



A DIALOGUE. 13 

order to be spared what is disagreeable, can liave nothing 
to do with what you mean.' 

'We women understand tliat well,' replied Ernestine, 
' but it is a question whether it ought not to be some- 
times expressly laid to the charge of you men when 
your special care, especially for the boys, is in question. 
With them boldness and cleverness are required, and 
progress is always connected with effort and denial ; 
and so it may often be necessary to keep down the 
magnifying influence of the feeling of self ; and this 
might easily give their fathers an incorrect view of things 
if they were not to be diligently guided by our motherly 
doing and sense.' 

' True, we know and recognise,' said Edward, ' bow 
you are destined and made to cherish and develop the 
first' pure germs of childhood, before any corruption 
appears or attaches itself. The women who devote them- 
selves to this holy service would everywhere becomingly 
dwell in the interior of the temple as vestals who watch 
the sacred fire. We, on the contrary, must move out 
and march forth in stern form ; we must practise 
discipline and preach repentance, or lay the cross upon 
us as pilgrims, and gird us with the sword, in order to 
seek a lost sanctuary and win it again.' 

'You take me back again,' broke in Leonard, 'to a 
thought wdiich I had almost lost sight of in the flow of 
your conversation. It refers to your Sophie, and it has 
been often of late almost on my tongue, and has come 
just now very vividly before me. Her childish piety 
certainly moves me too, but I am at times alarmed at it. 
When her feelings break forth, her soul sometimes 
appears to me like a bud that perishes before it has 
blown, from too strong an impulse in itself. By all 



14 CHRISTMAS EYE. 

that is sacred, my dear friends, don't give too much 
nourishment to this feeling. Probably you cannot see 
her so vividly in the future as I do now, with all 
her colours early faded, perhaps kneeling in her veil 
and worshipping with fruitless rosary before the image 
of a saint ; or if not that, then dressed in the back- 
thrown hood and the unattractive dress, excluded from 
the free and glad enjoyment of life, and brooding dull 
and inactive in one of the Moravian Sisters' Homes. 
It is a dangerous time for this. Many beautiful women 
souls betake themselves to one or other of these silly 
aberrations, tearing asunder their family ties ; and thus 
in any case, the fairest form and the richest happiness 
destined for woman is missed, not to mention the inner 
perversion of her nature, without which such things 
could not arise. What I fear is that the child is too 
much disposed to this side of things. It would be 
indeed an irremediable loss if that soul and spirit of 
hers were carried away by the corruption of a time by 
which it might almost be said that few women have 
kept themselves entirely unaffected, if that is true which 
Goethe says, that a stigma always clings to one ^vho has 
in any way dissolved the relation of marriage or altered 
their religion. Such an anxiety may well be spoken 
out if a friend feels it, but only once ; and so it may 
not have been without reason that I have always been 
prevented speaking of it till to-day, though I know not 
how.' 

' I bear you witness,' said Ernestine, ' that you have 
been prevented, for I have already observed your anxious 
feeling more than once ; and, being so definite, it might 
certainly have long since passed into words. But I did 
not encourage you in it, because I hoped you would 



A DIALOGUE. 15 

yourself become suspicious of your idea if you saw the 
child more, and if her inward nature was more distinctly 
unfolded before you. And so then, dear friend, I appeal 
to your own judgment. Certainly you are quite correct 
in supposing that there is some inward distortion of 
nature involved when such a course of life is entered 
upon as you are anxious about. And where is this 
more easily to be recognised than in a child in whose 
case there can be so little doubt as to whether such has 
really arisen from within or has only been acquired 
from without ? Can you, however, point out anything 
that is actually " distorted " in her, anything that goes 
beyond the true simplicity of childhood ? Or is there 
some wrong relation whereby something proper to her 
nature has been suppressed by her pious emotions ? I 
know nothing but that she has gone about this matter 
just as unreservedly as about any other that she likes 
and values. It is in this way that she gives herself up to 
every movement ; and in connection with every childish 
interest you will find her just the same, and in this 
matter she has been displaying as little vanity as in any 
other. Besides, she has no reason for acting otherwise, 
and she will never have any occasion for doing so as far 
as we are concerned. For no one gives any special 
attention to it; and if she must become aware, as is 
natural, that we reckon this sentiment as belon^an^ to 
what is highest, still no occasion is ever given for 
exalting such emotions or their expression in particular 
cases. We find her natural then ; and, in fact, such 
sentiment is natural to her. And we think that what 
comes about in this way, may be also left without inter- 
ference to nature.' 

'And all the more certainlv,' continued Elward, half 



16 CHKISTMAS EVE. 

interrupting her, ' the more so that all this belongs to 
what is most beautiful and noble in itself. For, my 
dear friend, the true side of the matter must surely lie 
in the inward element which so possesses the little one, 
as she has no occasion at all to attach herself to what is 
merely external. This Christmas performance will be 
laid aside in a few days, and you know yourself very 
well that in our circle there is no formalism of a religious 
kind, no prayer at set times, no special liours of worship, 
but everything is done only as our heart inclines us to 
it. Besides, she often hears us speaking about such 
things, and even singing (of which she is otherwise so 
very fond), without joining us. All this is quite in 
accordance with the manner and way of children. She 
generally has no particular pleasure in going to church. 
The singing there is- too poor for her taste ; the rest of 
the service she does not understand, and it wearies her. 
Were there anything forced in her piety, or were she 
inclined to ape others, or to be led by an external 
authority, would she not then force herself to find what 
we hold so conspicuously in honour to be beautiful and 
worthy of sympathy ? ISTow, as I regard all this as 
moving in harmony with her other development, I do 
not see how Eomanism, or even Moravianism, could ever 
become attractive to her. Before such could happen, 
she would, in fact, have entirely to lay aside her own 
proper taste, which lias not at all this character, as well 
as her almost bold and stronoj habit of distinsfuishinfj 
what is essential and chief in all things from what is its 
appearance and mere surrounding.' 

* I would venture, however,' said Caroline, before 
Leonard again took up the remark, ' to deprecate the way 
in wliich you conjoin tlie Moravians with the Catholics. 



A DIALOGUE. 17 

I believe we might dispute the point as to whether the 
two are to be regarded as in any respect at all the 
same ; but at least I cannot admit the application of 
that fine epithet " distorted " to what pertains to the 
Moravians. You know I have two of my lady friends 
among them wlio are certainly not distorted, but whose 
judgment and understanding are as correct as their 
piety is deep.' 

' My dear/ answered Edward, smiling, ' you must 
attribute tliis in the case of Leonard to ignorance. He 
merely repeats what one sometimes hears, and he has 
certainly never looked into a Moravian place unless to 
buy a good saddle, or to examine some remarkable fabric, 
and at the same time to get introduced to the pretty 
children of the Sisters' Home. I should certainly be 
wrong if I admitted such a thing generally. But only 
be good enough to observe that these remarks did not 
turn upon the excellences or character of the different 
Churches, but that we were only speaking about Sophie ; 
and in regard to her, any combination of these two 
things must appear beyond suspicion. For as you under- 
stand the matter, and without prejudice to your two 
lady friends, you will admit that a girl who can satisfy 
her religious sense in the bosom of her family and who 
has maintained her innocence and simplicity, will not 
find the world at all so dangerous ; and besides, as she 
has been accustomed to a joyful activity in a free life, it 
could not be thought that such a one without some 
strange aberration would shut herself up in a convent or 
sisters' home. Besides, as I was just about to say to 
Leonard, the same thing holds true of transitions both 
to Eomanism and Moravianism, unless when they are 
occasioned by peculiar circumstances, such as those that 

B 



18 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

you are defending. I mean that proselytes of either 
kind, so far as I know them, are not at all persons who 
have inclined to the religious life from childhood like 
Sophie, but, as we hear it said, it is rather pleasure- 
seeking women and crafty statesmen who in later years, 
or after certain misfortunes, become pious devotees. And 
so these proselytes are at least largely made up of such 
as have formerly dealt with whatever they have pursued, 
be it science, or art, or domestic life, in an entirely 
external way, and have wholly overlooked its relation to 
what is higher. Now when this relation somehow arises 
before their minds, they conduct themselves in this new 
world just like little children. They catch after its 
splendour, whether it be thrown from without upon the 
object, and magnify it, or come from an internal fire 
which attracts them on account of the darkness of their 
surroundings rather than by its own flame. And thus 
we may also say that in their repentance there always 
remains something of their sin, in that they would throw 
the guilt of their former coldness and darkness actually 
upon the Church to which they belonged, as if the sacred 
fire had not been preserved within it, but it had only 
practised a cold formalism, made up of empty words 
and outworn, dried-up ceremonies.' 

' You may be right in fact,' replied Leonard, ' in saying 
that such is the case with many, but certainly this is not 
the only source of this evil. It appears in many cases 
to arise directly from within, and so it is with our little 
one. It is truly strange that I and others whom you 
are wont to call unbelievers, should have to warn you 
and preach to you against unbelief, but, of course, only 
against unbelief in superstition and all that is connected 
therewith. I do not need to assure you, Edward, that I 



A DIALOGUE. 19 

honour and love the beauty of piety, but it must be, and ^ 
continue to be, inward. If it appears outwardly so as to 
form peculiar relationships in life, there springs from it 
what is most hateful : a petrifying separatism and spiri- 
tual pride, the exact opposite of what piety should 
properly produce. You remember, Edward, how we 
lately spoke on this subject, and we considered that a 
so-called spiritual profession could only be free from 
danger on this side if true piety were everywhere diffused, 
as is required of its professors ; and how, among the great 
number whom you know from your official connections, 
that you could with difficulty bring forward a couple of 
examples of such who had not fallen into the latter evil. 
But still more prejudicial to the laity is it when they 
become zealously affected for an ostentatious piety for 
which they have no special call. Indeed it appears to 
me to be quite like a sort of intoxication. The piety of 
the Catholics, who betake themselves to wholly external 
works of piety, is only one kind of it, while that of our 
own churchmen who gather themselves around some 
narrow and exclusive opinion is but another. And out 
of this same cup, as it appears, your little one has also 
taken a draught, and it is not at all sligjht for such a 
child. If you now foolishly favour this ambition of 
becoming a holy woman, or go so far as to cherish it, 
where will it in time carry her but into the convent or 
to the sisterhood ? For the common run of us do not 
carry out these things well in the world. And as regards • 
this piety that plays with the infant Christ, and the 
worshipping of the aureole which she herself made for 
it, is not this the most unmistakable germ of super- 
stition ? Is it not sheer idolatry ? See to it, my dear 
friends ; it is this which, if no check is put to it, will 



'20 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

certainly end in something irrational. But so far from 
putting a check upon it, I have the clearest evidence 
that you even give the child the Bible to read as she 
likes. I do, however, hope that you do not give it to 
her quite freely for her own use, but that you read 
from it in her presence, or that her mother narrates 
to her things from it ; yet it just comes to the same 
thing. The mythical element must allure her fancy, and 
strangely confused images of a sensible kind must take a 
firm hold, along with which no sound conception will 
afterwards find a place. A sanctified letter is thus set 
upon the throne ; and into it the unbridled arbitrariness 
which leads the child, will put what it never contained. 
Furthermore, the miraculous of itself directly nourishes 
superstition ; and the want of connection favours every 
illusion of individual fanaticism and all the deceptions of 
a taught system. Certainly at a time when the preachers 
are creditably zealous in the pulpit to make the Bible as 
dispensable as possible, it is the worst thing that can be 
done to give it again into the hands of the children for 
whom it was never made ; and it would be better for 
these books — to punish them as it were with one of their 
own sayings — that a millstone were hanged about their 
neck, and that they were cast into the sea where it is 
deepest, than that they should give offence to the little 
ones. What will be the result if they take the sacred 
history in with their other fairy tales ? What dangers 
may not arise therefrom if the heart hangs on such a 
faith, and if life is to be regulated by a belief which has 
no other truth than this ; and especially how hazardous 
is it for the other sex ! A boy will sooner help himself 
out of it, and will by and by find solider ground at the 
right time. And if it turns out wrongly with him, then 



A DIALOGUE. 21 

let him only study theology for a year, and that will 
certainly cure him.' 

' Now,' said Edward, after he had waited to see 
whether the speech was at an end, ' I must really defend 
our Leonard against you who do not yet fully know 
him, in order that his speech may not appear to you 
more ruthless than it was meant to be. He is really 
not sunk quite so deep into scepticism, and he has but 
little in common with our rationalists with whom he 
associates himself. But he is not yet entirely clear with 
himself in this matter ; and therefore he always mixes 
up jest and earnest so wonderfully that it is not possible 
for every one to separate them from each other. If, 
however, we were to take it all in earnest, he would 
certainly laugh at us not a little. I shall therefore keep 
myself merely to what has been jestingly said just now, 
dear friend, as what has been already stated is sufiQcient 
for what was spoken in earnest. Let me therefore tell 
you something, and don't be too much alarmed at it. It 
is true that the girl does really hear much of the Bible 
just as it stands. Thus Joseph has been represented to 
her as only the foster-father of Christ. It is a year or 
more since what I now relate occurred ; and when she 
put the question who then was His true father, her mother 
answered that He had no other father than God. Then 
she thought that God was also her father too, but that 
she would not like on that account to be without me. 
And that it was even a part of the suffering of Christ 
that He had no right father ; for it is indeed a glorious 
thing to have such a one. And thereupon she caressed 
me and played with my locks. You see from this how 
strictly she already holds by dogmatic theology, and 
what a capital capacity she has for becoming a martyr 



22 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

for the faith in the immaculate conception. Nay, more 
than this, she actually takes the sacred history in some 
things as if it were mythical ; for she forms her own 
idea of these things when, at certain moments, the girl 
wins the upper hand over the child, and thus she some- 
times doubts of the individual facts in that history, and 
asks whether such a thing is indeed to be understood 
literally. You see this is bad enough, and that she is 
close upon the allegorical explanation of some of the 
Church Fathers.' 

* Jesting in this way,' said Caroline, ' usually gives me 
courage to throw in a word too ; and I would like to 
admit that she herself made the aureole around the 
infant Christ, and she will soon herself draw, paint, and, 
if possible, model the Mother and Child, but in despite 
and violation of all heathenly disposed artists. For 
already she often traces out such sketches when at her 
writing and reading ; and thus it is done half without 
thinking, which is evidently so much the more Eoniish. 
But in earnest, I believe that we are only so much the 
safer from both extremes. For among the Moravians no 
importance is laid upon works of art, and therefore she 
would find matters too unartistic among them. And as 
regards the Eoman Catholics, you are always saying that 
the best of those who have gone over from us to their 

/ Church, did it because they found there an established 
union of religion with the arts, which is wanting in our 
Church. Now Sophie has already made this union for 
herself in her own way; and thus she will feel no need 
to attach herself to that form of it in which art often 
appears so strange and tasteless.' 

* Ah,' said Leonard, with manifest vehemence, ' if the 
ladies will insist on making me appear absurd, then I 



A DIALOGUE. 23 

must be so through and through. And so far as I am 
concerned, she may become Catholic if she likes with 
her application of the arts to religion ; for I don't like 
that at all. I am as a Christian very unartistic, and as 
an artist very unchristian. I don't like the stiff Church 
which Schlegel has depicted for us somewhat stiffly in 
his stanzas ; nor yet do I like the poor, begging, frozen 
arts being glad to find a place of refuge in it. If they 
are not to be eternally young, and to live richly and 
independently by themselves, forming their own world 
as the ancient mythology unquestionably formed its 
world, then I desire no part in them. In like manner 
religion, as we regard it, appears to me to be weak and 
questionable, if it wants to lean for support upon the arts.' 

* Take care, Leonard,' said Ernest, ' lest your fair 
friends remind you inopportunely of your own words. 
Have you not lately maintained to us that life and art 
are as little opposites as life and science, and that a 
cultured life is properly a work of art, a beautiful 
representation, the most direct union of the plastic and 
the musical ? Now they will say that you are not 
really of opinion that life should dwell with religion or 
should be inspired by it, and that religion therefore 
should be nowhere but in words, where you sometimes 
from all sorts of reasons need her.' 

' We will not say that,' interposed Ernestine. ' Besides, 
there has now been quite enough of this idle controversy, 
which wearies the rest of us because we cannot share 
with you in the pure delight of disputation.' 

* And there we are manifestly at one,' added Edward ; 
' at least in the beneficent feeling which expresses itself 
so specially in our life to-day. For what is this beautiful 
practice of giving each other presents but a pure ex- ♦^'^ 



24 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

hibition of religious joy, which expresses itself, as joy 
always does, in unsought kindliness, or in giving and 
serving ; and here, in particular, the great gift which we 
all equally rejoice in, is reflected in little gifts. The 
more purely this sentiment appears as a whole, so much the 
^more is our own mind possessed by it. And it was on this 
account, dear Ernestine, that we were so delighted with 
your arrangement this evening, because it so appropri- 
/ ately gave expression to our Christmas feeling: this 
becoming young again, the return into the feeling of 
childhood, the cheerfulness of a joy in the new world 
which we owe to the Child who is thus celebrated. 
All this lay in the glimmering light of the scene, in its 
green flowery surroundings, and in our restrained desire.' 

' Yes, indeed,' said Caroline, ' certainly what we feel 
in these days is so purely the religious joy in the subject 
itself, that I was extremely sorry at what Ernest a little 
ago expressed when he said it could be heightened by 
any glad events or expectations belonging to the outward 
life. But after all he was not quite in earnest in saying 
this. And as regards the significance of our little gifts, 
they have their value so far, not at all from what they 
refer to in particular, but only generally from their 
showing by such reference that the intention to give 
pleasure lies in them, and from their being a proof of 
how distinctly the image of every dear friend hovers 
before our mind in connection with them. My own 
1 feeling at least distinguishes that higher and more 
universal joy very distinctly from the liveliest interest 
in what may be happening or may be at hand to all of 
you, dear friends ; and I would rather say that the 
latter joy is heightened by the former. If what is 
beautiful and gladdening stands before us at a time when 



A DIALOGUE. 25 

we are most deeply conscious of what is the greatest and 
most beautiful of all things, then the latter joy will be 
conjoined with the former ; and thus it is that all that 
is lovable and good obtains a greater significance when 
viewed in relation to the great salvation of the world. 
Yes, I still feel clearly, as I have formerly experienced 
it, that joy blossoms up within us unchecked, even along 
with the deepest pain ; and that such joy purifies and 
soothes the pain without being destroyed by it, so 
original is it and so directly grounded upon something 
that is imperishable.' 

' I too,' said Edward, ' who according to Ernest's 
former estimate would to-day perhaps have the least cause 1 
of happiness among you, do feel in myself an overflowing 
gladness of a purely happy and cheerful kind, which 
would certainly bear and endure everything that might 
happen. It is a mood of mind in which I could challenge 
fate ; or if that appears presumptuous, in which I could 
at least find courage for every requirement ; and such a 
state is surely desirable for every one. I believe, 
however, that I owe the full consciousness and the right 
enjoyment of it partly to our little one, who led us a 
little ago to her music. Eor every beautiful feeling only 
comes completely forth when we have found the right 
tone for it : not the spoken word, for that at any time 
can only be an indirect expression — only, if I may say so, 
a plastic element — but the musical tone in the proper sense. 
In fact, music is most closely related to the religious feeling. ; 
A great deal is now said in one way or another as to how 
a common expression is again to be obtained for the 
religious feeling. But hardly any one ever thinks how 
that most desirable result might easily be attained, if 
the expression of song were again to be put into a more 



26 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

correct relation to that of words. What the word has 
made clear, the tones of music must make alive, or must 
convey, and fix as a harmony, into the whole inward 
nature.' 

' No one at least will deny,' added Ernest, ' that it is 
only in the religious sphere that music attains its per- 
fection. The comic species of music which exists only 
as a mere contrast, rather confirms than refutes this 
position. But an earnest opera can hardly be made at 
all without a religious basis ; and the same would hold 
true of all higher works of art in musical tones, for in 
the subordinate artificial forms no one will seek for the 
spirit of the art.' 

' This very close affinity,' said Edward, ' properly lies 
in the fact that it is only in direct relation to what is 
highest, or to religion, and to some particular form of it, 
that music, without being associated with any particular 
fact, obtains enough of material to be intelligible. 
Christianity is a unique theme exhibited in infinite 
variations, which, however, at the same time are con- 
nected by an internal law, and fall under definite general 
characters. Moreover, it is certainly true, as some one 
has said, that church music, although it cannot dispense 
with singing, might well dispense with particular words. 
A Miserere, a Gloria, a Eequiem : what special words are 
needed for any one of these ? It is intelligible enough by 
its character, and undergoes no essential change although 
the words are exchanged for others of similar significance, 
if they are only divided according to the music, and are 
capable of being sung ; and it is all the same whether it 
be in the same language or in another language. In 
fact, no one would say that anything of importance had 
escaped although he had not understood the accompany- 



A DIALOGUE. 27 

iug words at all. Hence it is that Christianity and 
music must both hold firmly to each other, because they 
glorify and elevate each other. As Jesus was received 
by the chorus of the angels, so do we accompany Him 
with music and song on to the great hallelujah of the 
Ascension ; and a musical composition like Handel's 
" Messiah " seems to me a compendious proclamation of 
the whole of Christianity.' 

' Yes, it may be said in general,' added Frederica, ' that 
that is the most religious tone which penetrates most 
surely into the heart.' 

* And further,' added Caroline, assenting, ' that it is the 
piety which sings, that ascends most gloriously and 
most directly to heaven. There is nothing accidental 
nor individual to sustain either of them. What Edward 
has said reminds me of something which he read to us 
not long since. You will at once guess to whom it 
belongs. The words sounded somewhat like this, that 
music never weeps or laughs over single events, but 
always only over life itself.' 

' We will add in Jean Paul's name,' said Edward, 
' that individual occurrences are only notes of transition 
for music, but its true subject is the great chords of the 
heart, which, wondrously and with alternations in the 
most varied melodies, always resolve themselves into the 
same harmony in which are only to be distinguished the 
hard and the soft, the male and the female.' 

' See,' interposed Agnes, ' here we come again to my 
former remark. What is individual and personal, be it 
future or present, joy or sorrow, can give or take as little 
to or from a heart which moves in moods of pious feeling, 
as mere transitional notes, which leave but light traces 
behind, can affect the movement of a harmony.' 



2& CHRISTMAS EVE. 

*Hear me, Edward/ suddenly broke in Leonard. 
^ ' This repose of yours appears to me to be too bad. It 
entirely denies the reality of life, and I must call you to 
account for it. How can you bear it/ he continued 
softly, 'that Agnes can speak thus, she who lives in the 
most beautiful hope ? ' 

'Why not?' she answered herself; 'is not the personal 
at the same time likewise here the perishable ? Is not 
a new - born child exposed to most dangers ? How 
easily is the mere flickering flame blown out even 
by the softest wind ! But what is eternal in us 
is maternal love ; it is the fundamental chord of our 
being.' 

'And is it, then, indifferent to 3^ou/ asked Leonard, 
' whether you can form your child to that which floats 
before you in idea, or whether it is again snatched from 
you in the first feeble period of life ? ' 

' Indifferent ! ' she answered. ' Who says that ? But 
the inner life, the connection of the heart, is not thus 
lost. And do you then believe that love is directed to 
what we can form the children into ? What, indeed, 
can we form ? No, it is directed to be beautiful and the 
divine which we already believe to be in them, and 
which every mother seeks for in every movement as soon 
as ever the soul of the child expresses itself.' 

' Now then, my dear friends/ said Ernestine, ' in this 
sense every mother is again a Mary. Every mother has 
thus an eternal divine Child, and seeks devoutly in it 
for the stirrings of the higher Spirit. And into such 
love no fate brings any painful destruction, nor does 
there ever spring up within it the pernicious weed of 
maternal vanity. The old man may prophesy that a 
sword will pierce through her soul ; Mary only keeps the 



A DIALOGUE. 29 

words in her heart. The angels may rejoice, and the 
wise men may come and worship ; yet she does not 
exalt herself, but always continues in the same meek 
and devout love.' 

' "Were it not,' said Leonard, ' that you express every- 
thing so charmingly, so that one cannot wish to detract 
from it, much might be said against your view. Other- 
wise, if all that held truCjjj'ou w^ould actually be the 
heroines of the time, you dear idealistic enthusiasts, 
with your contempt of what is individual and real ; and 
we should have to lament that your circle is not stronger, 
and that you have not your worthy representatives in 
strong martial sons fit for bearing arms. You must be 
the true Christian Spartanesses. Look, therefore, to 
your words, and keep to what you promise ; for there 
may be hard trials at hand for you so that you will have 
to make them good. The preparations are already com- 
plete. A great fate marches about uncertainly in our 
neighbourhood with strides under which tlie earth quakes, 
and we know not how it may draw us in. May then the 
actual with its proud arrogance only not take its revenge 
upon your humble contempt of it ! ' 

' Dear friend,' answered Ernest, ' the ladies will hardly 
yield to us in such trials ; and the whole test as it seems 
to me is not very much to them. What appears to us 
in the distance as looming huge with domestic misery, 
breaks down when near into many small components ; 
what is great in it disappears, and as regards the indi- 
vidual, he only encounters some of these petty details, 
which are besides alleviated by their similarity to what 
is happening to all around. What must move us men in 
these concerns, is not what depends on nearness or distance, 
but just what does not fall directly within the sphere of 



30 CHEISTMAS EVE. 

^vomen, and which can only arouse them through us and 
on our account.' 

In the meantime Sophie had been mostly at the piano 
making closer acquaintance with her newly - acquired 
treasures, a part of which she did not previously know, 
while some of what was known she wished at once to 
appropriate as her own. And now she was heard singing 
a chorale from a cantata in a loud, clear voice, — 

He who gave us the Son that we might ever live, 
How shall He not Avith Him us all things freely give ? 

to which was attached a magnificent fugue, — 

If I possess but thee, I ask no more in heaven or earth. 

When she had finished, she closed the instrument and 
returned into the drawing-room. 

' See,' said Leonard, who saw her coming, ' here is our 
little prophetess ! I would like to hear at once how far 
she already belongs to you.' Then giving her his hand, 
he addressed her thus : ' Tell me, little one, is it not the 
case that you surely like rather to be merry than sad ? ' 

' I cannot say that I am just either of them at present,' 
she answered. 

' What ! not merry, after receiving so many pretty 
presents ! This is certainly the effect of the solemn 
music. But you have not quite understood what I meant. 
What I asked was — and surely it was hardly necessary to 
ask it — which of the two you prefer to be, merry or sad ? ' 

' Oh, that is difficult to say,' she replied ; ' I am not 
particularly fond of being either, but I always prefer 
most to be what I just am at the time.' 

* Now I don't understand that again, little sphinx ; 
what do you mean by that ? ' 



A DIALOGUE. 31 

' Well,' slie said, * I know nothing further than that 
merriness and sadness sometimes wonderfully come 
together, and yet contend with each other, and that 
makes me anxious ; because I observe, as mother has 
also said to me, that there is always something wrong or 
false in play, and therefore I don't like it.* 

* Then,' he asked again, ' if you are all the one only, is 
it all the same to you whether you are gladsome or sad ? ' 

' Far from it, for I just like to be what I am ; and 
what I like to be is not indifferent to me. Oh, mother,' 
she continued, turning to Ernestine, * do help me ; he 
questions me in such a strange way, and I cannot at all 
understand what he means. Let him rather question 
big people, they will be able to answer him better.' 

' In fact,' said Ernestine, ' I don't think, Leonard, that 
you will make much further way with her. She is not 
at all in the habit of making comparisons about her life.' 

'Don't be discouraged by this attempt,' said Ernest, 
encouraging him with a smile ; ' catechising is always a 
line art ; and it is just as well practised in the courts as 
elsewhere. And certainly one always learns something 
by it, if it is not begun in an entirely erroneous way.' 

' But is it possible,' said Leonard, avoiding Ernest's 
joking, and turning to Ernestine, ' that she has no feel- 
ing as to whether she prefers to be in a merry state 
or in a sad one ? ' 

' Who knows ? * she replied. ' What do you think, 
Sophie ? ' 

' I don't know it at all, mother ; I can be very well 
in either ; and just now I was extremely well without 
being the one or the other. Only he vexes me with his 
questions, because I cannot make out all that is to be 
put together in trying to answer them.' 



32 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

And thereupon she kissed her mother's hand and 
betook herself to the opposite end of the room to her 
Christmas presents, where it was dimly lighted with only 
a few glimmering lamps. 

* This at least she has clearly shown us,' said Caroline 
softly, ' what that childlike sense is without which one 
cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. It is just this, 
to accept every mood and every feeling for itself, and to 
wish to have them only pure and whole.' 

' True,' said Edward, ' only she is not a mere child, 
and this is therefore not wholly the child sense, but she 
is now a girl.' 

' Yes, indeed,' continued Caroline ; ' and that remark 
should only be applicable to us. And I would only say 
that the lamentations which are so frequently heard from 
young and old, even in these very days of childish joy, 
that they can no longer enjoy themselves as in the years 
of their childhood, certainly do net arise from those who 
have had such a childhood. Only yesterday 1 could not 
but wonder at the astonishment of some to whom I 
asserted that I was still as capable of lively joy as ever, 
only in more abundance.' 

' Yes,' said Leonard jestingly ; ' and the poor child is 
often regarded as vain by people of that kind, even when 
she does nothing but rejoice in a truly childlike way 
about something that is girlish. But never mind, my 
fair friend, these gainsay ers are in turn just those to 
whom nature has assigned a second childhood at the end 
of life, in order that, when they reach this goal, they may 
have a last consoling draught from the beaker of joy at 
the close of their long, pitiable, and joyless time.' 

' This is truly more solemn and tragic than ludicrous,* 
said Ernest. ' I at least hardly know anything more 



A DIALOGUE. 33 

dreadful than the way in which the great mass of men 
proceed in view of the fact that they must necessarily 
lose the first objects of the delight of their childhood. 
Owing to their incapability of attaining to higher things, 
they become thoughtlessly indifferent to the beautiful 
development of life, and are tormented with ennui. I 
hardly know whether to say tliey merely look on at 
life or participate in it, for even that is too much for 
their utter inactivity. And so their life goes on, till 
at last out of its nothingness there arises a second 
childhood, which, however, is related to the first as 
a cross - tempered dwarf is to a beautiful and lovable 
child, or as the unsteady flicker of a dying flame is 
to the lustre of one that has just been kindled and is 
spreading all round and transforming itself into many 
forms.' 

' Only against one thing,' said Agnes, ' w^ould I like 
again to raise an objection. Is it then the case that the 
first childish objects of enjoyment must, in fact, be lost 
that the higher may be gained ? May there not be a 
w^ay of obtaining the latter without letting the former 
go ? Does life then begin with a pure illusion in which 
there is no truth at all, and nothing enduring ? How am 
I rightly to comprehend this ? In the case of the man 
who has come to reflect upon himself and the world, and 
who has found God, seeing that this process is not gone 
through without conflict and warfare, do his joys rest 
upon the eradication, not merely of wdiat is evil, but of 
what is blameless ? For it is thus we always indicate 
the childlike, or even the childish, if you will rather so 
have it. Or is it the case that time with some peculiar 
poison must already have slain the first original joys of 
life ? And the transition from the one state into the 

c 



34 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

other, must it proceed then in every case through what 
has really nothing in it ? ' 

' You may well call it nothing/ remarked Ernestine ; 
' and yet it appears that men — and they also confess it 
themselves, and one might almost say the best of them 
confess it most — as such generally lead between child- 
hood and their better existence a life that is strange, 
wild, passionate, and confused. On the one side, it looks 
like a continuation of their childhood, the joys of which 
also show a violent and destructive nature; but on the other 
side it shapes itself into an unsteady striving, an unsettled 
and always changing, a letting go and trying to lay hold of 
things in life, of which we women understand nothing. 
In our sex the two tendencies are combined with each 
other in a less perceptible way. In what attracts us in 
the sports of childhood our life already lies implied, only 
that as we grow up there is gradually revealed the higher 
meaning of this and that. And even when we under- 
stand God and the world in our own way, we express our 
highest and sweetest feelings always again in those lovable 
trifles, in that mild brightness, which made us friendly 
with the world in the days of childhood.' 

' Hence,' said Edward, ' men and women also have in 
the development of the spiritual nature, although it must 
be the same in both, their different ways in order that 
they may also be united in this relation through comple- 
mentary knowledge. Indeed it may well be the case, and 
it seems to me clearly to be so, that the opposition of the 
unconscious and the reflective appears more strongly in 
us men, and it reveals itself during the process of transi- 
tion in that restless striving and that passionate struggle 
with the world and ourselves ; whereas in your calm and 
gracious nature the balance of the two elements and their 



A DIALOGUE. 35 

inner unity comes to light : and holy earnestness and 
amiable playfulness are with you everywhere identical.' 

'But then,' rejoined Leonard, smiling slyly, 'strangely 
enough, we men should be more Christian than you 
women. For Christianity speaks everywhere of a pro- 
cess of conversion, of a change of mind, of becoming new, 
whereby what is old has to be expelled. Of all which, 
if the foregoing speech is true, women, a few Mag- 
dalenes excepted, would have no need at all.' 

* But Christ Himself,' rejoined Caroline, ' has not been 
converted. And on this very account He has always 
been the protector and patron of women; and whereas 
you men have only contended about Him, we have loved 
and reverenced Him. Now what could you object to 
this, if I were to say that we have only put the right 
sense into the antiquated proverb that we always continue 
to be children, whereas you men must first be converted 
in order that you may become so again ? ' 

' And to apply the suggestion to what is on hand,' 
added Ernest, ' what is the celebration of the infancy of 
Jesus but the distinct recognition of the immediate union 
of the Divine with what belongs to the child, in conse- 
quence of which union the child needs no further conver- 
sion ? Agnes has likewise already expressed it as the 
common view of all women, that in their children, even 
from their birth, they assume the presence of the Divine, 
and seek for it as the Church seeks it in Christ.' 

' Yes, this very festival,' said Frederica, ' is the nearest 
and best proof that it really stands with us as Ernestine 
has already indicated.' 

' How so ? ' asked Leonard. 

* Because,' she replied, ' small portions of the nature of 
our joy which are yet neither unnoticeable nor forgotten, 



36 CHKISTMAS EVE. 

may be examined in order to see whether it has experienced 
any such sudden transformations. It can liardly be 
necessary to put the question to our conscience, for the 
thing speaks for itself. It is evident enough that every- 
where women and girls are the souls of these little 
festivals ; they are the most busied about them, and are 
also the most purely receptive of their influence, and 
have the highest delight in them. If such things were 
left to you men only, they would soon perish ; it is 
through us alone that they become a perpetual tradition. 
'But, it may be asked, could we not have the religious joy 
alone by itself ; and should that not be so, it may further 
be asked whether we had found it out at a later stage as 
something new ? But in our case everything about this 
festival goes on now just as in earlier years. In child- 
hood we already assigned a peculiar significance to these 
presents ; to us they were more than the same things 
given at another time. It was only so because even then 
there was a dim mysterious presentiment of what has 
since gradually become clearer, and which always still 
arises most lovingly before us in the same form, and will 
not let the accustomed symbol go. Indeed, in view of 
the exactness with which the little beautiful moments 
of life remain in our memory, it would be possible to 
trace out from stage to stage the unfolding of the higher 
relation.' 

* Truly,' said Leonard, ' were it vividly and well 
done, as you well can do it, it would certainly give us 
a lovely series of little pictures if you were to describe 
to us your several Christmas joys, with their memorable 
incidents ; and those even who may not enter with 
special sympathy into the immediate object, would still 
be pleased with your effort.' 



A DIALOGUE. 37 

' How prettily he gives us to understand that it would 
be wearisome to himself ! ' cried Caroline. 

' Assuredly/ said Ernestine, ' this might be too trivial, 
even for one who wished to be ever so gallant, as well as 
for those who really had more mind for the subject. 
But whoever can relate any single incident, remarkable 
in any way, bearing a reference to our conversation, pray 
let it be done ; and let it be joined on by the teller to an 
incident of the kind belonging to my early childhood, 
which I will now tell you, although perhaps some of you 
may already know it.' 

Frederica arose and said, ' You know that I am not in 
the habit of relating things in this way. I shall, how- 
ever, do something else which may give you pleasure. 
I will take my place at the piano, and follow your nar- 
ratives with my fantasias upon them. Thus you will 
also hear something from me, and with your finer and 
higher ear.' 

Ernestine began : ' It so happened that just before the 
joyous festival, on the occasion I refer to, all sorts of 
sad circumstances and complications had occurred which 
had but shortly before turned out happily in the end. 
Hence it was that there was far less provision made than 
usual for the enjoyment of the children, nor could there 
be so much love and care bestowed upon such prepara- 
tions as were usually made. This was a favourable 
opportunity for getting a wish satisfied which I had 
expressed the previous year, but in vain. At that time 
the so-called Christmas carols were held in the late hours 
of the evening in the churches, and they were continued 
even till near midnight, the singing alternating with 
addresses to an audience that was always changing, and 
not very deeply engaged in devotion. After some hesi- 



38 CHEISTMAS EYE. 

tation, I was allowed to go to church accompanied by 
my mother's maid - servant in charge of me. I hardly 
remember of ever experiencing such mild weather at 
Christmas as was at that time. The sky was clear, and 
yet the evening felt almost warm. In the neighbourhood 
where the Christmas market was held, and which was 
already almost over, there roamed about large bands of 
boys provided with the last of the pipes, whistling-birds, 
and spinning-tops, which had been cleared off at a cheap 
price, and they were running about making much noise 
on the ways that led to the different churches. It was 
not till we came quite close that we heard the organ 
and the voices of a few children and old people accom- 
panying it in an irregular way. Notwithstanding a 
considerable display of lamps and tapers, the dim pillars 
and walls grown grey with age could not be clearly seen, 
and I could only with difficulty make out a few shapes, 
which, however, presented nothing that was gladdening 
to the eye. Still less could the clergyman with his 
quavering voice inspire me with any interest. Quite 
dissatisfied, I was about to ask my companion to return, 
and was just casting a last look everywhere round about 
me. Then in an open pew under a beautiful old monu- 
ment I noticed a lady with a little child upon her bosom. 
She appeared to give little heed to the preacher, or the 
music, or to anything else around her, but seemed to be 
deeply sunk in her own thoughts alone, and her eyes 
were directed fixedly upon the child, who drew me 
irresistibly towards her, and my companion led me up. 
Here I had all at once found the sanctuary that I had 
been long seeking in vain. I stood before the noblest 
figure that I had ever seen. The lady was simply 
dressed, and it seemed as if her tall and graceful and 



A DIALOGUE. 39 

distinguished form turned the open pew into a closed 
chapel. There was no one near, and yet she did not 
appear to observe me, even when I stood close before her. 
Her mien seemed to me at one time to be cheerful and at 
another to be sad, her breathing now trembling with joy 
and again hardly suppressing joyful sighs; but the 
enduring impression of the whole was friendly repose 
and loving devotion ; and this feeling streamed gloriously 
from her large black downcast eye, which the lashes 
would have entirely hidden from me had I been any 
taller. The child also appeared to me uncommonly 
lovable; it looked animated and yet quiet in its move- 
ments, and it seemed to me as if engaged in a half 
unconscious dialogue of love and longing with its mother. 
And now I had living forms corresponding to the beauti- 
ful pictures of Mary and the Child, and I became so 
absorbed in this fancy that half involuntarily I drew the 
dress of the lady to me and asked with a moved and 
pleading voice, May I then give a gift to the dear child ? 
Thereupon I poured out upon his clothes some handfuls of 
dainties which I had taken with me as a resource against 
whatever need might come. The lady looked closely at 
me for a moment, then drew me in a kindly way to her- 
self, kissed my brow, and said, " Oh yes, my little darling ; 
everybody is giving away to-day, and all on account of a 
Child." I kissed the hand she laid upon my neck, and 
the little outstretched hand of the child, and was about 
to go quickly away, when she said, " Wait ; I will also 
present you with something ; it may be that I shall again 
recognise you by it." She searched about and drew from 
her hair a gold pin with a green stone, which she fastened 
to my cloak. I again kissed her dress, and quickly left 
the church with a full heart and a feeling of bliss beyond 



40 CHEISTMAS EVE. 

anything. She turned out to be Edward's eldest sister, 
that glorious tragic form, and she has had a greater influ- 
ence than any other upon my life and upon my inward 
nature. She soon became the friend and guide of my 
youth ; and although I have had nothing to share with 
her but sorrows, I yet regard my connection with her as 
belonging to the most beautiful and important elements 
of my life. Edward also stood on that occasion as a 
grown - up boy behind her, but without being at all 
observed by me.' 

Frederica appeared to have known the subject of her 
narration, so exactly did her playing accompany the 
graceful story, and thus she brought every part of it at 
the same time into harmony with the impression of the 
whole. When Ernestine had finished, Frederica, after 
some fantastic variations, glided into a beautiful church 
melody. Sophie, who at once made it out, ran up to 
join her voice, and they sang together the beautiful 
verses of ISTovalis, — 

I see thee in a tlioiisand forms, 

Mary, lovingly express'd; 
Yet none can show thy deeper charms 

That move the sonl within my breast. 
I only know the Avorld's uproar 

Appears now as a vanished dream ; 
And joys of Heaven, unknown before, 

Through all my heart for ever stream. 

' Mother,' said Sophie, when she went back, ' all that 
now stands vividly before me which you have sometimes 
told me about aunt Cornelia and the beautiful youth 
whom I once saw, who died so heroically, but in vain, 
for the cause of freedom. But let me bring the pictures ; 
we all know them well, yet I think we must now look at 
them again.' 



A DIALOGUE. 41 

The mother nodded assent, and the child fetched two 
pictures, painted by Ernestine, but not yet framed. They 
both represented her friend and the son of her sorrow. 
The one represented him returning to her from the battle 
wounded, but covered with glory, the other as he taking 
farewell of her when about to fall as one of the last 
sacrifices of that most bloodthirsty time. 

Leonard interrupted the painful memories which found 
expression in only a few sad words by turning to Agnes 
and saying, ' Tell us something else, child ; and free us 
thereby from the sense of keen pain which does not pro- 
perly belong to our joy, and from the Mariolatry into 
which these tw^o have now sung us.' 

* Well, then,' replied Agnes, ' I will relate something 
that is less important, but perhaps it will have its com- 
pensation in its gladsomeness. You know a year ago 
we were all scattered at the time of this festival, and for 
some weeks I had been staying with my brother to help 
Louisa, who had had her lirst child. The holy evening 
had also begun there, according to our habit, with an 
assembly of friends. Louisa was entirely recovered, but 
I had to undertake to arrange everything ; and to my joy 
there prevailed among all the pure cheerfulness and the 
freshly stirred love which everywhere springs up on this 
general day of joy among good men. And as this cheer- 
fulness clothes itself with gifts and tokens of gladness in 
the very vesture of mirth and free play some childlike- 
ness, so was it likewise among us. Suddenly the nurse 
appeared in the drawing-room with her child, w^nt 
peering round the tables, and called out several times 
half-jesting, half-whimpering, " Has, then, no one made a 
present to the child ; have they, then, all forgotten the 
baby ? " We immediately gathered round about the little 



42 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

gracious creature ; and all sorts of expressions broke out 
in jest and earnest as to how, with all our love, we could 
yet give to him no joy, and how right it had been that 
we had bestowed everything which specially related to 
him upon the mother. And now the nurse was shown 
all his presents, and they were also held up to the little 
one : the little caps and stockings, the clothes, spoons, 
and napkins, and such like. But neither the splendour 
and sound of the noble metal, nor tlie dazzling, trans- 
parent white of the material, appeared to move his senses. 
So indeed it is, children, I said to the others ; he is still 
entirely his mother's, and even she can to-day stir in 
him but the usual daily feeling of satisfaction. His 
consciousness is still united with hers ; in her it dwells, 
and only in her can we cherish and gladden it. " But," 
said an amiable girl, " we have been all very limited 
in our views, in that we have thought in this way 
only for the present moment. Does not, then, the whole 
life of the child stand before its mother ? " With these 
words she begged me to give up the keys ; several others 
scattered away in like manner with the assurance that 
they would soon be back again ; and Ferdinand told 
them to make haste, for he also had something else in 
view for the little one. " You will not easily guess what 
it is ? " said he to us who remained. " I am going at once 
to baptize him ; I could think of no moment more beautiful 
for it than this ; provide what is necessary, and I shall 
also be back when our friends return." As quickly as 
possible we dressed the child with what was most 
graceful among the presents, and we had hardly finished 
when those who had gone away returned with all sorts 
of gifts. They presented a wonderful mixture of jest 
and earnestness, such as cannot but be in any attempts 



A DIALOGUE. 43 

to represent the future. There was material for making 
articles of clothing, not only for his boyhood, but even 
for his marriage day ; a toothpick and a watch-chain, 
with the wish that it might be said of him in a better 
sense than was done of Churchill, when he plays with 
his watch-chain or uses his toothpick there comes forth 
a poem ; there was also fashionable note-paper on which 
he might write the first letter to his sweetheart ; elemen- 
tary text-books for all sorts of languages and sciences ; 
and also a Bible, which was to be handed to him when 
the first instruction in Christianity was given to him ; 
and his uncle, who is fond of caricatures, even brought as 
the first requisite of a future dandy, as he expressed it, 
a pair of spectacles, and did not rest till they were put 
on before the large bright blue eyes of the little one. 
This caused great laughter and jesting ; but Louisa asserted 
quite earnestly, with the exception of the spectacles — 
for he must certainly have her and Ferdinand's excellent 
eyes — that she saw him now quite vividly and with 
definite form and features, in a certain genuine prophetic 
way, before her in all the times and relations to which 
the presents pointed. It was in vain that they joked 
with her as to how old-fashioned he would probably 
turn out if he should really honour every present by 
using it, and how in particular the writing-paper must 
be taken care of lest it became yellow. At last we 
agreed that the giver of the Bible was to be praised 
above all, for this he would most certainly be able to 
use. I drew their attention to the dress we had put on 
the little one, yet no one found anything peculiar in this, 
but only that he had received their gifts in a right worthy 
manner. Hence they were all not a little astonished 
when Ferdinand entered the room in his full canonicals. 



44 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

while the table with the water was brought at the same 
time. " Don't be too much astonished, dear friends," he 
said. " The remark of Agnes some time ago very naturally 
suggested the thought of baptizing the boy on this day. 
You will all be witnesses, and thereby you will anew 
subscribe yourselves as sympathizing friends of his life." 
" You have presented him with gifts," he continued, after 
he had looked at them individually amid many cheerful 
remarks ; " they refer to a life of which he yet knows 
nothing, just as gifts were presented to Christ which 
pointed to a glory of which the Child yet knew nothing. 
Let us now make what is most beautiful his own, even 
Christ Himself, although it can bring to him as yet no 
joy or enjoyment. Not in the mother alone nor in me 
alone will there now dwell for him henceforth the power 
of the higher life, which cannot yet be in himself, but it 
will be in us all ; and out of us all it must betimes 
stream to him, and he must receive it into himself." He 
thus gathered us around him, and almost straightway 
from the conversation he went on to the sacred act. 
With a slight allusion to the words, " Can any forbid that 
these be baptized ? " he proceeded to say how that the 
very fact that a Christian child is received by love and 
joy, and always continues surrounded by them, furnishes 
a guarantee that the Spirit of God will dwell in him ; 
how the birthday festival of the new world must be a 
day of love and joy ; and how the union of both is 
specially adapted to consecrate a child of love to the 
higher birth of the divine life. When we had then laid 
all our hands upon the child, according to the good old 
practice in those parts, it was as if the rays of heavenly 
love and joy had concentrated upon the head and heart 
of the child as in a new focus ; and it was certainly our 



A DIALOGUE. 45 

common feeling that they kindled there a new life, and 
that they would thus ray out again on all sides.' 

' Again just as before,' interrupted Leonard ; ' only 
we have this time as it were an inverted negative Chris- 
tian child which the aureole streams into, not out from.' 

' You have touched it off splendidly,' answered Agnes ; 
' I could not have said it so finely. It is the mother 
whose love sees the whole man in the child ; and this 
love which calls to her as with an English greeting, is 
even such that it sees the heavenly radiance already 
streaming out from her child, and only upon her pro- 
phetic face is that beautiful reflection formed which 
Sophie has represented in an unconscious childish way. 
And you will also say better and finer than I can, if you 
only say it at all, why it is that 1 have given up this 
evening again to you ; for I am not able to describe in 
words how deeply and fervently I have felt that every 
cheerful joy is religion ; that love, leisure, and devotion 
are tones of a perfect harmony which in every way can 
follow and accord with each otlier. And, Leonard, if 
you will do what is very clever, take care not to jest ; 
for then the truth will certainly come to you against 
your will as before.' 

' And why should I ? ' answered Leonard. * You 
have yourself stated how you would have it expressed, 
namely, not by words, but in music. But as it appears 
Frederica has herself done nothing but listen, and has 
given us nothing at all to hear, not even your symbol, 
with which you were just now so enchanted — the simple 
accord ; how is this accounted for ? ' 

' Truly,' said Frederica, ' it is easier to accompany at 
once a narrative like the former one ; especially if one 



46 CHKISTMAS EVE. 

happens to know something of it,' she added, smiling. 
' But I believe furthermore that my art will be less lost 
on you if I only follow the narration ; and if you will, 
it shall now be played directly over to you.' She 
played a fantasy on the theme, inweaving the music of 
some cheerful, brioiit church melodies, which, however, 
are now little heard ; and then sang, in order to finish 
again wdth her favourite poet, Novalis, some of the 
verses of his hymn, — 

Where stayst Tlioii, world's Consoler, still? 
Long waits the room Avhich Thou must fill, — 

naturally selecting those stanzas which appealed most 
to the female heart : 

Father, send Him forth with power ; 
Give from Thy hand this richest dower; 
But pureness, love, and shame divine 
Have long kept back this Child of Thine. . . . 

The winter wanes ; a new year nigh 
Stands by His crib, an Altar High ; 
It is the whole world's first New Year, 
That with this Child doth now appear. 

Dim eyes behold the Saviour true, 
The Saviour lights those eyes anew ; 
His head the fairest flowers adorn, 
From which He shines like smiling morn. 

He is the Star ; He is the Sun ; 
The Fount whence streams eternal run ; 
From hei-b and stone and sea and light. 
Shines forth His radiant vision bright. 

Through all things gleams His infant play; 
Such warm young love will ne'er decay ; 
He twines Himself, unconscious, blest. 
With endless power to every breast. . . . 



A DIALOGUE. 47 

Where a break came in, she was able to fill it up with 
liarmonies that expressed the inward rest and the 
pleasure with which she was filled, and which she 
wished to represent. 

'Now, however,' said Caroline, 'you will have to 
prepare to pass to tones of sadness, although you may 
have to end Avith pure joy. You will now have from 
me too a sketch set in the same frame around this 
beautiful festival. For I feel disposed to relate to you 
how I celebrated the festival last year at the home of 
my dear friend Charlotte. There is properly nothing at 
all in the way of narrative to give in connection with it. 
It is only a contribution to what you already know of 
Charlotte from other narrations and from her letters ; 
and you must recall everything which you already know 
about her. In her part of the country, the amusing 
habit prevails among the grown - up people of making 
their presents to each other without letting themselves 
be known. By the most roundabout ways, and in the 
strangest manner, each one makes his gift come to the 
other, whenever it is possible, disguising it under some- 
thing less important, so that the receiver of the gift has 
sometimes been made to rejoice or to wonder, and yet 
has not found out the right person. There must thus 
be a great deal of planning and devising ; and the happy 
scheme is often not carried out without varied and long 
preparations. Charlotte, however, had for several weeks 
to bear the sorrow of an inexplicable, and therefore so 
much the more distressing, sickness of her darling boy, 
her youngest child. For a long time the physician 
could neither give nor take hope, while pain and want 
of rest always robbed the little angel more and more 
of his strenirth ; and so there w^as nothinc: but his 



48 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

dissolution expected. Among the friends, both male 
and female, all the preparations that had been entered 
upon to give the mother a surprise by ingenious conceits 
or playful jest, were interrupted with inward sorrow. 
No one would venture even by a single gift to try to 
turn away her attention from the object of her love and 
pain ; everything was deferred to a more favourable 
time. She almost incessantly carried the child about 
in her arms ; she never lay down at night for her usual 
rest ; only in the daytime, when the child appeared 
calmer, and when she could entrust it to me or to 
another intimate friend, did she allow herself short 
snatches of repose. Nevertheless she did not neglect 
looking after the matters connected with the festival, 
however often we entreated her not to exhaust her- 
self any more with what was so much in contrast to 
her anxieties. It was certainly impossible for her to do 
any work herself, but she planned and arranged; and 
she often surprised me in the midst of her deepest pain 
by putting a question as to whether this or that was 
provided, or by again expressing the thought of some 
new little pleasure. There was certainly no mirthful- 
ness or playfulness in anything she said, but neither is 
that generally in accordance with her nature. There 
was no want, however, of thoughtfulness, or of attention 
to what was important ; and in all there was the quiet 
grace which characterizes all her actions. I still re- 
member when I once, almost disapprovingly, expressed 
my wonder, that she said to me : " My good friend, there 
is no fairer nor more befitting frame round a deep 
sorrow than a chain of little joys prepared by us for 
others. Everything is then in the setting in which it 
can remain for life ; and why should we not wish to get 



A DIALOGUE. 49 

at once into this setting ? There is something imperfect ' 
in all that time effaces ; and it does this in the case of 
all that is violent and one-sided." A few days before 
Christmas, it could be seen that there was an internal 
struggle going on within her. She was almost the only 
one who had not yet been convinced of the hopeless 
state of the child; but now his looks, and particularly 
his weakness, overpowered her. The image of death 
arose all at once and most definitely before her. Deeply 
absorbed in herself, she paced about for an hour, carrying 
the child in her arms, and showing all the sij^ns of 
deepest emotion. She gazed for a while with a sadly 
illuminated countenance upon it, as for the last time ; 
bent down for a long kiss upon his brow ; and then 
with new strength and courage she reached me her 
hand, and said : " Now I have overcome it, dear friend. " 
I have given back the little angel to the Heaven from 
whence he came, I now look calmly for his dissolution. 
I am calm and assured ; nay, I can even wish to see 
him soon depart, in order that the signs of pain and of 
destruction may not dim the angelic form which has 
impressed itself so deeply and for ever upon my soul." 
On the morning of the day before Christmas, she 
gathered the children around her, and asked them 
whether they would celebrate their festival on that 
day, saying that everything was ready, and that it all 
depended on themselves ; or whether they would wait 
till little Edward was buried, and the first stillness and 
the first pain should be past. They declared unani- 
mously that they could find no pleasure in anything, 
but that the little brother was still living, and even 
might not die. In the afternoon, Charlotte handed me 
the child, and lay down to rest. She fell into a long, 

D 



50 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

refreshing sleep, from which I had resolved not to 
awaken her, whatever might happen. Then there came 
a crisis in the almost dying body, accompanied by 
violent convulsions, which I regarded as the last, and 
it indicated to the physician, when he had been called, 
both the evil and the cure. After an hour, the child 
was found to be evidently better, and it was distinctly 
seen that it was on the way of recovery. The children 
hastily decorated the room and the couch of the little 
one in a festal manner. The mother then entered, and 
she believed that we were only trying to beautify the 
appearance of the dead body. When she looked upon 
the couch, the first smile of the child gleamed upon her. 
Like a half-dead bud rising again after a kindly shower, 
and unfolding itself to the sun, so did the child appear 
to her among the flowers. " If it is no delusive hope," 
said she, embracing us all after she had learned what 
had occurred, " then this is a different regeneration from 
what I had expected. I had hoped and prayed," she 
continued, " that the child might be raised out of this 
earthly life during these festival days. It moved me 
sadly and soothingly to send an angel to Heaven at 
the time when we celebrate the sending of the greatest 
One to the earth. And now both of them come to 
me at the same time,, sent directly from God. At this 
festival of the regeneration of the world, the darling of 
my heart is born again to a new life. Yes, he lives ; 
there is no doubt of it," she said, as she bent over 
him, yet hardly dared to touch him, or to press her 
lip to his hand. " May he continue to be such an angel," 
she said, after a pause, "purified by suffering as if he 
had passed through death, and been consecrated to a 
higher life. He is to me a gift of special grace, a 



A DIALOGUE. 51 

heavenly child, because I had already consecrated hun 
to Heaven.'" 

Caroline had to tell many things connected with this 
history more precisely, as well as to give a further account 
of the rare excellence of her friend to whom she was 
devoted with such special regard. Leonard listened with 
quite a peculiar interest, and was almost vexed when 
Ernest asked him : 'But do you not find here again the 
same thing as before, as it were an inverted Mary who 
begins with the deepest maternal suffering, with the 
Stdbat Mater, and ends with joy in the divine Child ? ' 

' Or indeed, not inverted at all,' said Ernestine ; ' for 
Mary's pain could not but vanish in the feeling of the 
divine greatness and glory of her Son ; just as, on the 
other hand, from the commencement of her faith and her 
hopes, everything that outwardly occurred to her could 
only appear as suffering, as alienation.' 

At this point the conversation was interrupted by the 
entrance of a merry party of acquaintances, some of 
whom did not belong to any particular company, while 
others had exhausted their own sources of enjoyment 
more rapidly from their unsettled feeling ; and now they 
were roaming about to take a glance here and there as 
to how their friends had been enjoying themselves, and 
what gifts had been given and received. In order to be 
more welcome as spectators, and that they might find 
everywhere a friendly reception, they announced them- 
selves as messengers of Father Christmas, and distributed 
the choicest dainties for the palate among the boys and 
girls. Sophie was spared the usual ceremonial of the 
inquiry about the good behaviour of the children, and she 
attached herself readily and pleasantly to the new arrivals. 



62 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

She quickly renewed the illumination of her tableaux, and 
was as eloquent a guide as she was a curious questioner 
about all that her friends had already seen elsewhere. 
A hurried refreshment was handed round, and then the 
visitors hastened away, expressing a wish to be joined by 
some of the members of the company. This, however, 
Edward would not allow. He said they must all remain 
for some time yet together ; and, besides, Joseph was 
certainly expected, and he had received the promise that 
he should find them all there. 

When the visitors had departed, Ernest said, ' Well, as 
it has now been resolved that we shall spend the evening 
here in conversation and at table, I think we owe the 
ladies something in return, that they may be the more 
willing to stay with us. However, the art of narrating 
is not the gift of men ; and for my part, I should be 
the last to persuade myself to presume upon it. But 
what think you, friends, of this ? Suppose that after an 
English, not to say a Greek fashion, and one which is not 
quite strange to us, we were to choose a subject about 
which it would be incumbent on every one to say some- 
thing ? And further, that it should be a subject of such a 
kind that in discussing it we would not have to forget 
the presence of the ladies, but rather regard it as our best 
aim to be understood and praised by them ? ' 

All agreed to this proposal; and the ladies were delighted 
with it, because they had not heard such a thing for long. 

' Well then,' said Leonard, ' if you ladies enter with 
such interest into the proposal, you must also give the 
subject upon which we are to discourse, lest in our 
awkwardness we should be taking up something that 
might be too far away, or uninteresting to you.' 



A DIALOGUE. 53 

' If the others are of the same opinion,' said Frederica, 
' and if it were not to cause you too much inconvenience, 
I should like to propose as your subject the Christmas 
Festival itself, as it is that which keeps us gathered 
together here. It has so many sides of interest, that 
each one may glorify it in such a way as may be most 
agreeable to himself.' 

No one made any objection to this, and Ernestine 
observed that any other subject would have appeared 
strange, and have in a manner destroyed the evening. 

' Well then,' said Leonard, ' in accordance with our 
custom, I, as the youngest present, cannot refuse to be 
the first speaker. And I will be the first the more 
willingly, partly because the impression of an imperfect 
discourse will be the more easily taken away by a better, 
and partly because I shall most certainly enjoy the 
pleasure of anticipating some of the first thoughts of the 
others. At the same time,' he added, smiling, ' your 
arranGjement doubles the number of the discoursers on the 
subject to you this year, in an invisible way ; for you will 
hardly fail to attend church to-morrow, and it would 
rather be a vexation to us than a pleasure to the worthy 
men who will discourse to you there, and perhaps a very 
great weariness to yourselves, if you had to hear the same 
thing over again in the churches. Hence I will keep 
myself as far away as possible from their lines ; and so I 
begin my discourse. 

' Everything may be glorified and extolled in either of 
two ways : first, it may be commended, by which I mean 
that its nature and essential character may be recognised 
and represented as good ; but, secondly, it may be 
eulogised, that is to say, its excellence and perfection in 



54 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

its own kind may be put prominently forward. ISTow 
the first method may be here passed over, and it may be 
left to others to praise the festival as such generally, and 
so far as it is a good thing, that by certain actions and 
usages returning at appointed times the remembrance of 
great events shall be secured and preserved. But if 
there are to be any such festivals at all, and if the 
primary origin of Christianity is to be regarded as some- 
thing great and important, then no one can deny that 
this festival of Christmas is an admirable festival, so 
perfectly does it realize its purpose, and under such 
difficult conditions. Yov if it were to be said that the 
remembrance of the birth of the Eedeemer is far better 
preserved by the mere Scriptures themselves and by 
instruction in Christianity generally than by the Festival, 
then I would venture to deny this. For us, indeed, who 
may claim to belong to the more educated class, it 
seems to me that the former medium might perhaps be 
enough, but this would by no means be the case with 
the great mass of the uneducated people. For not to 
mention the Eoman Church, where the Scriptures are 
little or not at all put into their hands, but confining 
our consideration to those of our own communion, it is 
manifest how little they are disposed to read the Bible, 
or are even capable of understanding it in its proper 
connection. What of it is imprinted upon their memory 
in the course of the instruction they receive, is rather made 
up of the proofs of separate ^propositions than the history 
as such ; while, on the other hand, what is got by them 
from the history in this way is rather the death of the 
Eedeemer, which is thus brought into remembrance, and 
those parts of His life which are imitable and instructive 
in detail, rather than His first entrance into the world. 



A DIALOGUE. 55 

Nay more, even in reference to the life of the Eedeemer, 
I would venture to assert that the facility with which we ^ 
believe in the miracles performed by Him has its founda- 
tion chiefly in our festival and the impressions which it 
produces. For it is manifest that the belief in the 
miraculous much rather arises in this way than through . 
the medium of evidences or doctrine. Otherwise, how 
comes it that the Eoman Catholic Christian believes so 
much in the miracles of his saints although verging on 
the absurd, yet could not resolve to believe in anything 
similar, however similar it may be represented to him to 
be, if it is connected with persons belonging to an alien 
religion or a different historical circle, although at the 
same time the miracles of his own saints are not at all 
really connected with the proper truths and obligations of 
the Christian faith ? In fact, he believes all this just 
because of the festivals which have been instituted in 
honour of these saints ; for what in the form of mere 
narrative would by itself exercise no convincing power is 
brought by these festivals into connection with the impres- 
siveness of a sensible present fact, and thereby obtains a 
hold and always establishes itself anew in his heart. Thus 
it is that in ancient times much of the marvellous and 
miraculous relating to the dim early ages, was mainly 
preserved in this Avay, and came to be believed through 
the festivals ; and this holds even of such things as the 
historians and poets say little or nothing of. Indeed, 
action is so much more effective than words for this "^ 
purpose, that not seldom it was on account of festal 
actions and usages, when their true meaning had been 
lost, that false histories were not only invented but came 
to be also believed. And, conversely, we have analogous 
instances in the Christian Church where fables have 



56 CHEISTMAS EA^E. 

been devised in order to heap up the miraculous to an 
increased degree, and they have only really come to be 
believed when festivals came to be consecrated to them. 
The Ascension of Mary may be taken as an example. 
If, then, the common people hold so much more to actions 
and customs than to narrative and doctrine, we have 
every reason to believe that even among ourselves the 
belief in the miraculous connected with the appearance 
of the Eedeemer finds its point of attachment chiefly in 
our festival and its favourite usages. And as regards 
the Eoman Church, in addition to this all that relates to 
Mary comes in aid, because she is always hailed and 
addressed as the Virgin. This then, and all that depends 
upon it, is the merit for which I first of all extol and 
eulogize our Festival. — But I have further indicated that 
this memorial relates to a subject which has been 
specially difficult to preserve, and that the merit of it is 
therefore so much the greater. I will make clear what 
' I mean. The more any one generally knows about an 
object, the more definitely and significantly does he 
represent it to himself; and the more necessary its 
connection with the present is, so much the easier does 
every institution become whose aim is to recall it. The 
case, however, — as it appears to me, — is very much other- 
wise in reference to all that pertains to the first appear- 
^ance of Christ. I allow Christianity to be regarded as 
unquestionably a strong and powerful present fact, but 
[the earthly personal activity of Christ appears to me to 
be far less connected with it than most people rather 
assume than believe.] In particular, what rests upon Him 
in reference to the reconciliation of our race, is connected 
by all of us specially with His death ; and in this con- 
nection — as I think — more turns upon an eternal decree 



A DIALOGUE. 57 

of God than upon a particular individual fact ; and on this 
account we ought to connect these ideas not so much 
with one particular moment of time, but rather to extend 
them beyond the temporal history of the Eedeemer, and ,^24 
hold them as symbolical. Yet it is natural that the ''^^^^ 
idea of a memorial in remembrance of the death of 
Christ, which was the sign of the completed redemption, 
as well as a memorial of His resurrection as the 
authentication of that completed redemption, could not 
but for ever establish themselves among His believingj 
followers. The resurrection was on that account also 
the chief subject of the first evangelization, and the 
foundation upon which the Church was built, so that it 
perhaps might not have been necessary continually to 
recall its remembrance even by the weekly celebration 
of Sunday. But if, apart from the idea of the atonement, ^ 
we consider the human activity of Christ, the substance 
of which is only to be sought in the j)roclamation of His 
doctrine and in the founding of the Christian fellowship, 
it is wonderful how little is the share which can rightly ■»'^' 
be ascribed to Him in the present form of our Chris- 
tianity. ^ Only consider how little of its doctrine as well — 
as of its institutions can be directly referred to Himself, 
whereas by far the most of them is of other and later 
origin. So much is this the case, that if we think 
of John the Forerunner, Christ Himself, the Apostles, 
including the late-comer, and then the early fathers, as 
forming the members of a series, it must be admitted 
that the second member of the series does not stand 
in the middle between the first and third, but that 
Christ is far closer to John the Baptist than to Paul. 
Indeed it remains doubtful whether it was at all in 
accordance with Christ's will that such an exclusive and 



58 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

organized Church should be everywhere formed, although 
without it our present Christianity — and consequently 
also our festival, the subject of my discourse — cannot be 
conceived of. On this account the earthly life of Christ 
was also put greatly in the background in the first 
proclamation of Christianity; and as most people now 
believe, it was only proclaimed in part by subordinate 
persons. Furthermore, if we note the zealous striving 
of these narratives to attach Christ to the old royal 
House of the Jewish people, which, whether the relation 
be so or not, is nevertheless quite unimportant as regards 
the founder of a universal religion, it must be admitted 
that His life was narrated only in a subordinate manner. 
'c\ v/JChrist's supernatural birth, however, appears still less to 
• have been universally spread by historical narratives,] 
otherwise there could not have been at the time so many 
Christians who regarded Him as a naturally produced 
man. And hence the truth only appears to have been 
brought forth out of the rubbish, and to have again 
become predominant, by means of our festival. For in 
the conflict of the different opinions the narrative by 
itself would not have sufficed, as the narrators, if they 
gave no consideration to this diversity of opinion, could 
decide nothing ; but if otherwise, then to a certain extent 
they would be themselves transformed from witnesses 
and narrators into parties. For this diversity is so 
great, that however we may designate it, every narrative 
or assertion undoes the other. Or can any assert the 
resurrection, without being compelled to leave it free for 
every one to explain the death as not having happened ? — 
which, indeed, can mean nothing else than that the 
later fact explains the opinion to be false which had 
. been held regarding the earlier facts. In like manner. 



A DIALOGUE. 59 

again, the Ascension of Christ makes the truth of 
His life to be in a manner suspected. For the life 
belongs to the planet, and what can be separated from 
it cannot have borne a living connection with it. As 
little result remains if the opinion of those who denied 
Christ a true body or a true human soul, is taken along 
with the opinion of those who, on the contrary, would 
not attribute to Him true deity, or generally what is 
superhuman. JSTay more, if we reflect that it is disputed 
as to whether He is still present on earth only in a spiri- 
tual and divine way, or likewise also in a corporeal and 
sensible manner, both parties may be easily brought to 
this, that their common and hidden meaning is that 
Christ was not present nor lived upon earth and among ^ 
His followers of yore in another or more peculiar 
manner than He does now. In short, what is presented *^ 
in experience and history regarding the personal exist- 
ence of Christ, has become so uncertain by the diversity 
of opinions and doctrines maintained on the subject, that 
if our festival must be pre-eminently regarded as the 
foundation of the belief which has been maintained in 
common regarding Him, it is thereby glorified all the 
more, and there is demonstrated a power in it bordering 
closely upon that fact already mentioned, namely, that 
history itself is sometimes really made by such usages, i 
But what in all this is most to be wondered at, and what 
may at once serve us as an example and a reproach in 
reference to many other things, is this, that the festival -^ 
evidently owes its prevalence for the most part to the 
circumstance that it has been introduced into our houses 
and homes, and that it has been established among the 
children. It is there, in fact, where we ought to establish 
what is most valuable and sacred to us ; and we should 



GO CHRISTMAS EVE. 

regard it as discreditable and a bad sign that we do not 
Jo so. — This institution, then, we will maintain as it has 
been handed down to us ; and the less we know as to 
what its wonderful power lies in, the less shall we change 
even the least element in it. To me at least, even its 
smallest details are full of significance. For as a Child 
is its chief subject, so it is also the children above all 
who exalt and maintain the festival, and through the 
festival also Christianity itself. And as night is the 
historical cradle of Christianity, so the festival of its 
birth is also celebrated in the night; and the lighted 
tapers with which it sparkles are, as it were, the star 
above the inn, as well as the aureole without which the 
Child would not be found in the darkness of the manger, 
or in the otherwise starless night of history. And as it 
is dark and doubtful as to what we have acquired in the 
person of Christ, and from whom we have got it; so 
also the practice, which I have learned about from the 
second last narrative, is the most beautiful and the most 
symbolical form of the giving of Christmas presents. 
This is my honest opinion, to which I now challenge you 
to respond by emptying a beaker to the perpetual con- 
tinuance of our festival ; and I am the more certain of 
your joining me with approval in this from hoping you 
may thus make up for all else, and wash away what may 
have appeared to you blameable in my discourse.' 

* I now understand,' said Frederica, ' why he made so 
little objection to our theme, the unbelieving knave that 
he is, as he had a mind to speak so wholly against 
our proper meaning regarding it. I would like to 
press for his receiving condign punishment, all the more 
because I proposed the subject, and it might be said 



A DIALOGUE. 61 

that he has made me ridiculous by his way of dealing 
with it/ 

' You are quite right/ said Edward ; ' but it would be 
difficult to get at him ; for he has taken care to plead his 
cause like a true advocate as he is, in the course of his 
explanation, and by the manner in which he has inter- 
woven what is depreciatory, with the professed object of 
exalting the subject which he put into the front of his 
discourse.' 

*To take care to proceed like a true advocate,' said 
Leonard, ' is not at all bad ; and why should I not take 
every opportunity to exercise myself in the legitimate 
and becoming parts of my art ? Besides, I could not say 
no to the ladies, and they could not have provided me 
with anything better on which to exercise that way of 
thinking which I openly enough confess to. Yet, after 
all, I have not proceeded at all like an advocate, as I did 
not introduce into my speech the slightest appeal to our 
fair judges for favour.' 

' We must also bear you witness,' said Ernest, ' that 
you have left out much which might have otherwise been 
brought forward, whether it was that you had it not 
in hand, or that you dropped it to spare time, and not 
to speak too learnedly and unintelligently before the 
ladies.' 

' For my part,' said Ernestine, ' I should like also to 
praise him for having so honourably carried out his 
promise to keep himself as much as possible away from 
what we perhaps might hear to-morrow in the places of 
public worship.' 

' Well then,' said Caroline, ' if it is not possible to 
bring him forthwith to trial, the first question is how to 
refute him ; and unless I am wrong, it is your turn, 



62 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

Ernest, to speak, and it stands with you to save the 
honour of our theme.' 

' I intend,' said Ernest, ' to do the last without under- 
taking to do the first ; and for my part, I should not care 
to comhine these two things with each other. Besides, 
the refutation would draw me away to other subjects, and 
I might then myself become liable to a penalty. And 
further, to one who is not accustomed to extempore 
connected speaking, nothing is more difficult in doing so 
than to follow up the train of thought of another.' 

He then proceeded as follows : ' As to what I was about 
to say, before you spoke, Leonard, I should not have known 
to make the distinction as to whether it is a commending or 
an extolling of the subject. But now I know that, accord- 
ing to your manner, I am about to extol it, for I will also 
euloejize the Festival of Christmas as excellent in its kind. 
But with regard to the laudation of it to the eff'ect that 
it is good in its kind and conception, I shall not, like you, 
leave that out of account, but will rather proceed upon it. 
Only I may remark that your definition of a festival is 
^not sufficient for me, as it was one-sided, and generally 
was only adapted to your own requirement. My require- 
ment, however, is different from yours, and I must bring 
in the other side of the subject. You only looked at 
it from the point of view that every festival is a com- 
memoration of something, but what concerns me most 
is what it commemorates. Accordingly, I say that a 
festival is founded only to recall to remembrance some- 
thing of which the very idea is fitted to excite a certain 
mood and sentiment in the souls of men ; and the 
excellence of any festival consists in the fact that this 
result is realized in the whole range of the sphere to 



A DIALOGUE. 63 

which it belongs, and in a vivid degree. The mood, 
however, which it is the object of our festival to produce, 
is joy ; and it is so evident that it does vividly quicken 
and widely spread this condition of mind, that nothing 
requires to be said about it, as every one sees this with 
his own eyes. There is only one difficulty which I might 
be expected to remove. For it might be said that it is 
not the peculiar and essential character of the festival at ^ 
all that produces this effect of joy, but only what is 
accidental to it, such as the j)^^esents that are given 
and received. I must therefore proceed to show how 
erroneous such a view is. To me it is evidently so ; for 
if you give the children the same things at any other 
time, you will not thereby evoke even the semblance of 
their Christmas joy until you come to the opposite point 
with them, namely, that at which their own birthday 
festival is celebrated. I believe that I am right in 
calling this an opposite point, and certainly no one will 
deny that the enjoyment of a birthday has quite a 
different character from the enjoyment of Christmas. 
The former has all the inwardness which is j)i"oduced 
from its being confined to a particular relation ; the 
latter has all the fire and the quick movement of a wide- 
spread general feeling. Hence it appears that it is not the 
presents in themselves which are the cause of the joy, 
but presents are bestowed only because there already 
exists a reason for rejoicing. What is peculiar to the 
joy of Christmas just consists in this its great univer- 
sality. And this universal joy inevitably communicatesj 
itself to the presents too, so that in a great part of 
Christendom, or so far as the beautiful old custom yet 
reaches, every one is occupied wdth preparing their ^ 
gifts ; and in this consciousness lies a great part of the 



64 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

charm witli wliicli the festival lays hold of all. Imagine 
for a moment that only a single family kept up this 
custom, while all the other families in the same place 
had given it up, then the impression connected with it 
would no longer be the same. But the fact that there 
are so many taken up with it together, the zealous 
working in preparation for the appointed hour of the 
festival, and the Christmas markets outside open to all 
and arranged for the great crowd, all glittering with 
presents which with their brilliant illuminations look in 
the winter night like sparkling stars gleaming upon the 
earth, so that the heavens appear to reflect them back 
again : all this gives to the presents their peculiar value. 
And what is so universal cannot for that very reason be 
considered to have been arbitrarily devised or externally 
agreed upon, but must have a common internal principle 
or reason ; otherwise it could neither produce such an 
identical effect, nor even continue to exist at all ; as, 
in fact, we have sufficiently seen from many modern 
attempts of the kind. This internal principle, however, 
can be no other than this, that the appearance of the 
Eedeemer is the source of all other joy in the Christian 
world ; and for this reason there is nothing else can 
deserve to be so celebrated. For some, indeed, whom I 
cannot call to mind without accusing them in the very fact 
for so doing, have transferred the universal joy from this 
festival to the New Year, or to that day on which the 
change and contrast of time is most prominently shown. 
Many in doing this have merely proceeded without 
thinking, and it would be unjust to assert wherever 
presents are given at the New Year instead of at 
Christmas that this always indicates a lack of partici- 
pation in what is specially Christian in our life. Yet 



A DIALOGUE. 65 

this divergence in custom is evidently not unconnected 
with some such putting of the Christian element in the 
background ; and it is specially in place with those who 
lack inward attachment to it, and live only in the sphere 
of change, and who therefore make their special day of 
joy of that very day which is consecrated to the renewal 
of the perishable. For the rest of us, however, who »^ 
are indeed likewise subject to the change of time, yet 
desire not to live in what is transitory, the birth of the 
Eedeemer is the only universal festival of joy, because 
there is for us really no other principle of joy than our 
redemption. And in the development of this redemption 
the birth of the divine Child is the first bright point, and 
we wait for no other point of time after it, nor can we 
longer delay our joy. Hence, too, there is no other special 
festival which has such similarity with this universal 
one as that of baptism, by wdiich the principle of joy in 
the divine is appropriated to the little ones. And I 
may observe that this explains the peculiar charm of 
that graceful narrative in wdiich the two were presented 
to us in combination. Yes, Leonard, we may look at it 
as we may, but there is no escaping the fact. The 
original life and joy of nature, in which those opposi- ' 
tions between appearance and essence, time and eternity, 
do not yet appear, are not ours. And if w^e think of this 
as in some One, then we must also think of Him as a 
Eedeemer ; and for us He must begin as a divine Child. 
On the other hand, we ourselves begin with discord and 
division, and we only attain to harmony by redemption, 
which is really nothing but the removal of those opposi- 
tions ; and for this very reason redemption can only 
proceed from one in the case of whom they did not 
require to be removed. Certain it is that no one can 

E 



66 CHKISTMAS EVE. 

deny that the peculiar nature of this festival is this, that 
we become conscious of the inmost ground and of the 
inexhaustible power of a new untroubled life, and that 
in the first germ of it we at the same time behold its 
fairest blossom and even its highest perfection. How- 
ever unconsciously it may exist in many, the wondrous 
feeling connected with the miraculous cannot be resolved 
into anything else than into this concentrated vision of a 
new world. This world lays hold of every one, and its 
Originator is represented in a thousand images and in the 
most diverse manner. He is represented as the rising 
and returning sun, as the spring-time of the Spirit, as 
the King of a better Kingdom, as the most faithful 
Ambassador of God, and as the most lovable Prince of 
Peace. And so I come at last, Leonard, to refute you, 
even by agreeing with you and putting together com- 
paratively the different views from which w^e started. 
However insufficient the historical traces of His life 
may be when the subject is critically examined in a 
lower sense, yet the festival does not depend on this 
condition of the case, but on the necessity of a Eedeemer, 
as well as on the experience of a heightened sense of 
existence wdiich can be referred to no other beginning 
than the one in question. Often you find comparatively 
even less trace of the thread on which a crystallization 
has had to attach itself, yet even the slightest trace suffices 
to prove to you that it was there. So likewise it has 
really been Christ to whose powers of attraction this 
new world has owed its formation ; and whoever — as you 
yourself are inclined to do — recognises Christianity as a 
present power and as the great form of the new life, he 
must regard this festival as sacred, not in the fashion of 
those who do not dare to impugn what is not understood, 



A DIALOGUE. 67 

but by completely understanding it and all its details, 
including tlie presents and the children, the night and 
the light. — And with this little improvement, which I 
hope will be pleasing to you, I repeat your challenge. 
And I trust, or rather prophesy, that the beautiful 
festival will for all time preserve the gladsome childlike- 
ness with which it always returns to us. And to all 
who celebrate it I wish that true joy which is experi- 
enced in tlie finding again of the higher life, from which 
alone all its dear delights really spring.' "* 

' I must beg your pardon, Ernest,' said Agnes. ' I had 
feared that I should not at all understand you ; but this 
has not been the case, for you have very well shown 
that the religious element is really the essence of the •' 
festival. Only it would appear, from what has been as ^' 
yet made out, as if we women should have less share in 
the joy, because there is less of that deviation from 
nature manifested in us. But I can also explain that 
well enough for myself 

* Very easily,' said Leonard. ' It might just be at once 
said, and it is as evident as can be, that women bear 
everything easily as regards themselves, and strive after 
little enjoyment, but that as their inmost suffering is 
fellow-suffering, so also their joy is sympathetic joy. Only 
you must see how you are to keep yourself right with 
the authority of the sacred text which you will never give 
up, and which so evidently represents the women as the 
primary originators of the discord of nature and of all 
the need of redemption. But if I were Frederica, I 
would declare war upon Ernest in that he has so lightly, 
and without consideration of his own circumstances, given 
the preference to baptism over betrothal, which, I hope, is 
also to be regarded as a beautiful and joyful sacrament.' 



GS CHRISTMAS EVE. 

' Don't answer him, Ernest/ said Frederica ; ' he has 
already answered himself.' 

' How so ? ' asked Leonard. 

' Why, evidently/ replied Ernestine, ' in that you 
spoke of your own circumstances ; hut people like you 
never ohserve when you mix up your own dear selves. 
Ernest, however, made an excellent distinction ; and he 
will surely say to you that that relation comes closer to 
the joy of a birthday than to the joy of Christmas.' 

' Or/ added Ernest, ' if you will have something 
Christian in this connection, that it is more like Good 
Friday or Easter. But now, passing from what has already 
been presented, let us hear what Edward will say.' 

Edward thereupon began to speak as follows : ' It has 
already been remarked on an occasion like this by one better 
than I, that the last are in the worst position when any 
subject whatever is discoursed about in this way. This 
is not only so from the earlier speakers taking up what 
might have otherwise remained to be said, as indeed you 
two have given yourselves little concern in this respect 
about me by leaving over some points in detail which I 
might take up. But the difficulty for me mainly lies 
in this, that certain echoes of every speech remain in the 
minds of the hearers, and that these beget an always 
increasing resistance which the last speaker has the 
greatest difficulty in overcoming. Hence I must look 
round for some assistance, and attach what I am about 
to say to something that is known and dear to you, so 
that it may the more easily find entrance into your 
thoughts. Now, as Leonard has had the more external 
biographers of Christ very often before his mind in 
trying to discover what was historical in them, I shall 



A DIALOGUE. 69 

turn to the mystical one among the four evangelists 
who presents but little in the way of individual events. 
Indeed, we do not find in him anything of Christmas as ' 
an external fact ; but in his soul there rules an eternal, 
childlike Christmas joy. And what he gives us, is the 
spiritual and higlier view of our festival. As you know, ^ 
he commences thus : " In the beginning was the Word, 
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . 
In Him was life ; and the life was the light of men. . . . 
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt anion c>' us ; 
and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten 
of the Father, full of grace and truth." And it is thus 
that I prefer to regard the object of this festival, not as"' 
a mere child fashioned and appearing so and so, and 
born from this w^oman or that, or here or there, but as 
the Word made flesh, the Word which was God, and was 
with God. The flesh, however, as we ]>:no\v, is nothing 
else than our finite, limited, sensible nature. The Word, 
on the other hand, is the thought or consciousness ; and 
its becoming incarnate is therefore the appearing of this 
original and divine thing in that form. Accordingly 
wliat we celebrate is just what we are in ourselves as a ' 
whole ; in other words, it is human nature, or whatever 
you may call it, contemplated and known from the divine 
principle. But why we must set up One in whom 
human nature alone can thus exhibit itself, and why 
we must recognise this very One, and in His case refer 
this oneness of the divine and the earthly specially to 
His birth, and not regard it as a later fruit of His life : 
all this will be clear from what is to follow. What is 
man -in - himself but the terrestrial spirit itself, or the 
earthly life knowing itself in its eternal being, and in 
its ever changing process of becoming ? So far there 



70 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

is DO corruption in man, and no fall, and no need of 
a redemption. When the individual, however, attaches 
himself to the other formations of the earth, and seeks 
the knowledge of himself in them (for, in fact, conscious 
knowledge of them dwells only in him), he is only in a 
condition of becoming, and is in a state of fall and 
corruption, or of discord and confusion ; and he finds 
his redemption only in Man as such, Man in himself. 
Therein he finds in fact that very oneness of the 
eternal being and becoming of the spirit which can 
manifest itself upon this planet, and arise in every one 
only by every one contemplating and loving all that 
becomes, including himself, in the eternal Being alone. 
And in so far as he appears as in the process of becoming, 
he wills to be nothing else than a thought of the eternal 
Being ; nor will he be grounded in any other eternal 
Being than in that which is one and the same with the 
ever changing and returning process. Hence the oneness 
of being and becoming thus indicated, is found eternally 
in humanity, because humanity is and becomes eternally 
as the essential Man, as Man in himself. But in the 
individual, this oneness, so far as it is in him, must con- 
sciously arise as his thought, and as the thought of a 
common doing and living in which that knowledge which 
is proper to our planet not only is, but also becomes. And 

V it is only when the individual contemplates and cultivates 
humanity as a living fellowship of individuals, and carries 
its spirit and consciousness in himself, and loses and finds 
again his separate existence in it, that he has the higher 

/life and the peace of God in himself. Now this fellow- 
ship by which the true essential man-in-himself is thus 
exhibited or restored, constitutes the Church. The 
Church is therefore related to all else that becomes 



A DIALOGUE. 71 

human around it and out of it, as the self-consciousness 
of the humanity in the individuals is related to what is 
unconscious. Every one then in whom this self-conscious- 
ness arises comes into the Church. Hence no one who 
is not himself really in the Church can truly and livingly 
have science in himself; and, on the other hand, such a 
one can repudiate or deny the Church only outwardly 
and not inwardly. But there may well be those in the 
Churcli who cannot be said to have science in themselves ; 
for they may possess that higher self-consciousness in 
the form of feeling, although not also in cognition. This 
is just the case with women ; and it is at the same time 
the very reason why they attach themselves so mucli 
more fervently and exclusively to the Church. Xow 
this fellowship as a process of becoming, is likewise a 
thing that has arisen and become; and as a fellowship 
of individuals, it has arisen and become by communi- 
cation of that fellowship. We must therefore seek a 
starting-point for this communication, although we know 
that it must start again self-actively from every indi- 
vidual in order that the man - in -■ himself, or what is 
essentially human, may thus be brought forth and take 
shape in every individual. But the first fellowship of 
feeling which broke out freely and self-actively on the 
day of Pentecost may, as it were, be called the birth of 
the Church, and He who is regarded as the primary point 
in the beginning of the Church, or as its conception and 
inception, must be already born as the Man-in-himself, 
or as the God-man ; He must carry the self-cognition of 
humanity in Himself, and be the Light of men from the 
beginning. For we, indeed, are born again through the 
Spirit of the Church. But the Spirit Itself only goes 
out from the Son, who requires no new birth, but is 



72 CHKISTMAS EVE. 

born originally from God. Thus He is the Son of Man 
absolutely. All that was before Him was a pre-figur- 
ation of Him, and was related to Him ; and only 
through this relation was it good and divine. Yet in 
Him we celebrate not only ourselves but all who will 
yet come, as well as all who have ever been ; for they 
were only anything in so far as He was in them and 
they in Him. In Christ, then, we see the Spirit, accord- 
ing to the kind and manner of our earth, primordially 
take the form of self-consciousness in the individual. 
The Father and the Brethren dwell equably in Him, and 
are one in Him ; devotion and love are His very being. 
Therefore every mother who feels that she has borne a 
man, and who knows by a heavenly annunciation that 
the Spirit of the Church, the Holy Ghost, lives in her, 
forthwith presents her child on that account with all her 
heart to the Church, and she claims to be allowed to do 
this as a right ; and such a mother sees Christ also in 
her child, and this is j ust the inexpressible mother-feeling 
which compensates for all else. And in like manner, 
every one of us beholds his own higher birth in the 
Birth of Christ ; and in such a one there thereby lives 
nothincT but devotion and love, and in him too does the 
eternal Son of God appear. Hence it is that this festival 
breaks forth like a heavenly light shining out of the 
night. Therefore is it that there is a universal pulsating 
of joy in the whole new-born world, which only those 
members of the race that have been long sick or maimed 
do not feel. And this is the very glory of the festival 
which it was your wish to hear lauded also by me. — But 
as I see, I am not to be the last after all ; for our long 
expected friend is now indeed also here.' 

Joseph, in fact, had come in during this discourse, and 



A DIALOGUE. 73 

although he had entered and sat down quietly, Edward 
had observed him. ' By no means,' said he, when 
Edward thus addressed him, ' for you shall certainly 
be the last. I have not come to deliver a discourse, 
but to make myself glad with you ; and if I may 
honestly say it, it appears to me somewhat strange and 
almost foolish that you should be going on thus, how- 
ever fine it may in other respects have been. But I 
already observe that your evil principle is again among 
you^ — this Leonard, the thinking, reflecting, dialectical, 
over-intellectual man, against whom you have probably 
been directing your discourse. For assuredly it cannot 
have been needed for yourself, and you would not have 
otherwise fallen on the idea ; and to him, after all, it could 
be of no avaiL And the poor ladies have also had to fall 
in with it perforce. Only think what beautiful melodies 
they would have sung to you, with all the piety of your 
discourses dwelling in them far more inwardly ; or how 
charmingly, from hearts full of love and joy, they might 
have chatted with you, saying what would have other- 
wise pleased and enlivened you in a better way than 
they can have been by these solemn speeches of yours ! 
For my part, I cannot to-day take up with such things 
at all. To me all forms have become too stiff, and all 
discoursing too tedious and cold. The unspeakable 
subject demands and even produces in me an unspeak- 
able joy ; in my gladness I can only exult and shout for 
joy like a child. To me to-day all men are children; 
and for that very reason they are only the dearer to 
me. The solemn wrinkles are for once smoothed 
away ; years and cares do not stand written on the 
brow ; the eye sparkles and lives again ; and in 
them all is the presentiment of a beautiful and 



74 CHRISTMAS EVE. 

gracious existence. To my own delight I have also my- 
self become wholly a child. As a child quenches his 
childish pain, and suppresses his sighs, and draws in his 
tears when a childish joy is communicated to him, so to 
me to-day the long, deep, imperishable pain of life is 
soothed as never before. I feel myself at home, and as 
it were new born in the better world, in which pain and 
sorrow have no more a meaning, nor a place. AVith glad 
eye I look upon everything, even upon what wounds us 
^deeply. As Christ had no bride but the Church, no 
children but His friends, no home but the temple and 
the world, and yet His heart was full of heavenly love 
and joy, so do I seem to myself to be also born to strive 
after things like these. Thus have I roamed around the 
whole evening, taking everywhere the heartiest interest 
in all the trifles and amusements I have seen ; and I 
have loved and laughed, and enjoyed it all. It has been 
one long loving kiss which I have given to the world ; 
and now my enjoyment with you is to be the last im- 
press of the lip. For you know well that to me you are 
the dearest of all. Come, then, and bring the child 
above all things, if she is not yet asleep ; and let me 
see your glories ; and let us be glad, and sing something 
pious and joyous.' 



APPENDIX. 



DR CARL SCHWARZ ON SCHLEIERMACHEH'S 
CHRISTMAS EVE. 

SCHLEIERM acker's Christmas Eve was written five years later 
than his Monologues. He had now fought through the pain 
felt on account of Eleonore. This storm did not break him, 
but rather confirmed his moral energy. His real and deep 
religiousness and the power of his moral will, carried him safely 
through that severe conflict. He found reviving and healing 
influence in his friendships, and especially in the sympathy of 
noble and spiritually cultivated women, to whom he opened 
his soul. The Christmas Eve introduces us into this circle, and 
it closes the period of pain like a reconciling harmony. This 
work, like the Monologues^ was completed in a few weeks as if 
by a touch of inspiration ; and on the evening of Christmas 
1805, the last of the manuscript was given to the printer. 
The whole arrangement of the composition is artistic, and } et 
it is as simple as it is graceftd. It recalls the Dialogues of 
Plato, with which Schleiermacher at that time was much 
occupied ; and it reflects the manner in which these Dialogues 
present their earnest and instructive matter graced and en- 
livened by a social circle of living personalities. So we have \ 
here a kind of Christian ' Symposion ' around the Christmas 
table, representing a circle of highly cultivated men and 
women so combined as to adorn the solemn festival with 
fair blossoms, and to blend into a beautiful harmony a rich 
variety of difterent moods and views. 



7 6 APPENDIX. 

The women introduce the whole in a charming way, and 
they form, as it were, the accompanying music of the move- 
ment. They exhibit the element of deep inward religiousness 
that is elevated above all theology, and they are shown re- 
conciling and harmonizing all sharp tones and dissonances. 
Music is spoken of frequently and at some length ; and the 
Dialogue is repeatedly broken by it coming in. The thought 
is expressed and dwelt upon, that music has the closest 
affinity with the religious feeling, and that Christianity and 
music must go together, because they mutually elucidate and 
elevate each other. The child Sophie exhibits religion in its 
most original form, as breaking forth directly from the depths 
of the soul, and as still entirely merged in the musical spirit. 
The objection first suggested by Henriette Herz, the talented 
friend of Schleiermacher, has been frequently put forward, that 
the sketch of the child is a failure, and that she makes through- 
out the impression of being wise beyond her years, or of being 
l)recocious and old-fashioned. We cannot agree with this view, 
for with all the peculiarity and deep thoughtful n ess of her 
sayings, and with all the romanticism thrown into her dark, 
expressive eyes, we hold that the charm of originality and 
unconsciousness is not wanting in her. The conversation 
proceeds about various matters, which, however, are always 
connected with the Christmas festival and Christmas feelings, 
and returns to them again. Eemarks are made about what 
real joy i:^, about the high significance of art, and especially of 
sacred music, about the true character of childhood and what 
constitutes it, as well as about the distinguishing characteristics 
of the different nature of men and women. The Dialogue is 
thus carried on, often with witty and argumentative digressions 
and retorts, as was so characteristic of Schleiermacher, but yet 
always in such a way that the warm heart everywhere thrills 
through, and so that the fine aroma of a truly cultured society 
is felt to permeate everything. The women begin with narra- 
tives about past Christmas festivals and the feelings then 
experienced. Each of them proceeds to give a contribution 



APPENDIX. 77 

of her own, a little j^icturc set into the frame of the beautiful 
festival, ^yhcn they have ended, the men declare themselves 
also ready to give each his contribution to the banquet, as a 
return gift in the English or Greek fashion, and this is done 
by each of them making a discourse on the theme of the day, 
the sacred festival of Christmas. 

The speeches which thus follow, form the kernel of the 
whole production ; and they contain in germ, and in the most 
graceful and accessible form, the fundamental thoughts of 
Schleiermacher's Christology, and even of his whole Theology. ) 
The various sides of Schleiermacher's nature, and the spiritual 
tendencies which so wonderfully met in him, are assigned to 
the several speakers. The opposite representations which 
here seem to be in conflict, are in truth complementary to 
each other. It is not a mere historical conjunction of the 
divergent theological parties of that time that Schleiermacher 
proceeds to give us ; rather it is the different sides of his own 
theology which are only apparently separated, but are again 
united at the centre. It is Sclileiermacher himself who appears ^ 
in Protean transformations under the successive names. It is 
but one light that is here broken up into different colours. 

And, in the first place, we have Leonard, ' the unbelieving 
knave,' as he is called in jest by his friends, the ' thinking, 
reflective, dialectical, over-intellectual man.' This figure is 
sketched with particular fondness. It is Leonard who alw^ays 
adds the salt to the conversation, and who elevates the tone of 
it when it sometimes becomes too soft and lyrical, by lifting it 
up into the sphere of the understanding. He is not a mere 
cold advocate of enlightenment and a rationalist in the style of 
his time. He is rather to be regarded as the representative 
of the sceptico-critical spirit which was so powerful in Schleier- 
macher, and which belonged so inseparably to his nature ; the 
beneficial, health-preserving salt wdiich was so happily associ- 
ated and mingled with his mystical tendency. Leonard 
applies his criticism mainly to the historical representations of 
the birth of Christ as they have been handed do^^n to us by 



78 APPENDIX. 

the first three evangelists, the so-called synoptists ; and this 
criticism, it is well known, Schleiermacher never recalled nor 
minimized, hut in this connection he always remained a 
r.itionalist. He carried on the critical investigations regarding 
tlie origin of the writings of the New Testament and their 
unhistorical elements, and did so with more pointedness 
and with the utmost boldness, especially in connection with 
the miraculous narratives. These investigations had been 
began by the rationalists. Leonard comes to the result that 
the historical basis of the life of Jesus is generally very 
uncertain and contradictory, and that it is open to the conflict 
of parties, and especially that the narratives of the birth of 
Jesus suff"er irom these contradictions and incredibilities. 
And hence he infers that the synoptical narratives have not 
founded the Festival of Christmas ; but rather conversely, that 
this festival with its suggestive customs has become the ground 
of the faith that is maintained in common, as it so often 
happens in fact, that the customs of a following age become 
the means of forming anew and confirming the preceding 
history. He seeks the significance of the Festival of Christmas, 
not so much in its ecclesiastical as in its genuinely human 
relation, in its being the Christmas of the household and of 
the children ; and he will therefore interpret everything sym- 
bolically — the Child, the night, the lights, and so on — as 
presenting beautiful images of the spiritual life and of man's 
being born again. 

Ernest, on the other hand, brings specially forward the 
religious side of the festival. He starts from the religious feeling 
and the need of the community, and he develops from this point 
of view the significance of the Eedeemer and of the redemp- 
tion. As is well known, this is the very centre of Schleier- 
macher's Christology ; and, although it is as yet stated only in 
a simple form, this representation is of special interest to us 
as regards the construction of Schleiermacher's view of Christ, 
and more particularly in reference to His uniqueness and sin- 
lessness, as represented in his later dogmatic system. We are 



APPENDIX. 79 

able to recognise these elements of his doctrine here in all 
their main features, as a postulate of the religious feeling.-. 
The birth of the Eedeemer is the universal festival of joy, / 
because there is really no other principle of joy tlian the 
redemption ; and in the development of redemption the birth 
of Christ is the first clear point in history. Hence it was 
iiecessar}^ that the Redeemer should begin as a divine Child 
in unity with God, whereas we begin with discordance and 
division. And hence He was already at birth what we only 
become by regeneration ; and thus the special significance of 
the Christmas Festival consists in this, that ice do become con- 
scious of the inexhaustible ^ower of a neio undisturbed life. This 
apparent refutation of the scepticism of Leonard is, however, 
in truth an acceptance and completion of it, as Ernest himself 
puts it in the words: ' However insufficient the historical traces 
of His life may be when the subject is critically examined 
in a lower sense, yet the Festival does not depend on this 
condition of the case, but on the necessit)^ of a Eedeemer, as 
well as on the experience of a heightened sense of existence 
which can be referred to no other beginning than the one in 
question.' 

While Leonard thus represents historical criticism^ and 
^vn^st religious feeling with, its necessary return to the begin- 
nings of Christianity, Edward is the representative of the 
speculative element in Schleiermacher. His preference for the 
Gospel of John and for that speculation which finds a point of 
attachment in it, is here expressed. As distinguished from 
Leonard, Edward will keep to the Fourth Evangelist and to 
the tender ideal Gospel, in which there is in general little in 
the way of external and individual facts communicated, and 
there is no history of the Nativity at all. To him the object 
of the Festival is not so much the Child as the Word become 
flesh; it is ourselves we celebrate, that is to say, human 
nature regarded from the divine principle. For Christ is 
nothing else than Man in himself, the eternal Being in the 
process of change and becoming, the unity of the divine and 



80 APPENDIX. 

the earthl3^ This unity is in us too, but only in the form of 
individuality, of becoming ; and it is the task of every indi- 
vidual to elevate himself into human nature, into eternal 
Being. This is done through the fellowship of the Christian 
Church, which is at once in process of becoming and is 
become ; and as such it goes back to the point from which the 
communication of divine being proceeded, to the Man in him- 
self, or the Son of man absolutely. To Him everything in the 
history of humanity is related. All that came before pointed 
forward to Him, and all that has followed points back to Him. 
This speculative view of Christ is evidently closely connected 
with the leligious view of His person; and in the development 
of Schleiermacher's dogmatic theology, we find a fundamental 
metaphysical principle as the ultimate basis of the religious 
postulate of the uniqueness and sinlessness of Jesus : it is the 
unity of the ideal and the historical, a consciousness of God 
of such strength and powerfulness that it was at the same 
time a being of God in Christ. 

Lastly, at the close of the whole Dialogue, Joseph comes 
forward, having entered quietly during the last speech. He is 
the representative of the mystical element in all its inward 
fervour and unbrokenness ; he represents, as it were, the 
Moravianism that remained in Schleiermacher. To him all 
this discoursing appears foolish. For him all forms are too 
stiff, all words wearisome and cold. The unspeakable subject 
demands an unspeakable joy. He will become w^holly a child, 
and only laugh and shout for joy like a child. The religious 
feeling, in a manner very characteristic of Schleiermacher, 
thus breaks powerfidly and overwhelmingly through all the 
barriers of artificial reflection thrown up to oppose it like 
a stream of holy music, and in this music all is resolved. 
' Come, then,' it is said in conclusion, * and let us be glad, and 
sing something pious and joyous.' 



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